by Alix Cohen
Fanfare. Four business-suited men in an elevator erupt with staccato impressions of ongoing commerce as if finishing each other’s sentences as Brian Parks’ Enterprise (playing one final time tonight at 59E59 Theaters as part of the East to Edinburgh festival) opens. They are: Weaver (Matthew Boston), a fiery corporate evangelist in favor of orderly solutions; Sanders (Christopher Carley), an insecure, ambitious newbie with a watch that chimes “Old MacDonald”; Landry (Brian Dykstra), a gruff, but sincere, long term team player; and Owens (Jonathan Fishman), the smart, thoughtful one—he even paints. Working in the financial division of a large organization, they’re so fraternal only a secret handshake is missing.
Rat-a-tat fast vignettes find the men discussing vicissitudes of business in satirical terms, using allegory, philosophy, and isolated facts that sometimes sound Dadaist. Intensity, commitment, and shifting mood is clear even when particulars are not. The company is in deep trouble. The livelihoods and very lives of these men are threatened. Like vigilantes, they march, a united front, to the Chairman’s office warning him that the budget committee is out of control . . . and return cowed.
The four huddle, determined to come up with a rescue proposal. “We’ll show them enterprise! We need ideas, a whole new shape, one that would give Euclid a headache . . . Stratagems . . . Rumors—can’t give in to them, civilization will collapse . . . ” Paranoia ensues with three accusing the fourth of spying. A suicide is thwarted. Misery envelops. “I don’t want to be poor . . . I’ll end up in a soup kitchen!”
Failing together, they break into competitive teams resolving to work all night. One faction resorts to binoculars, psychology, possible hypnosis. The other, tossing aside algorithms, decides “generals who beat back a vast enemy often resort to sacrifice” and reappear with blood soaked rags having attempted appeasement. Relationships flare and shift. When the sun rises, two proposals are bound. But there are no winners.
The piece is dark, wry, and well written, if ten to fifteen minutes too long. Acting and direction (David Calvitto) are both outstanding. Rarely have I seen a Fringe piece executed with such skill and professionalism.
There’s no credit for Sound Design which is immensely evocative. [Update 7/30/17, 1 PM: Sound Design by Kari Bernston]
Enterprise. As part of the East to Edinburgh festival. Remaining performance: July 29 at 59E59 Theatres (59 East 59th Street between Park and Madison Avenues). www.59e59.org
Photos: David Calvitto