by: Sandi Durell

This new play by Victor L. Cahn, directed by Adam Fitzgerald at the Clurman Theatre on West 42nd Street, feels like a throwback to the 1950s – – advertising company, sexual favors, womanizing, think Mad Men. The only missing element here, are the cigarettes.

 When Patricia, perfectly played by Susan Louise O’Connor, saddles up to Bert’s office (he’s played by the playwright, a balding middle-aged seducer), to apply for a job, she’s already laid out her scheming plan of how to get ahead in the corporate world. As he interviews and questions her, it’s evident she hasn’t done much, as her cutesy responses provide. She’s filled with enthusiastic bantering and bullsh-t. In fact, this part of the play provides most of the major laughs in the show, as she wangles her way into a secretarial position. It doesn’t take long for her to show her fangs in the sweetest of ways as, within two weeks, she now has a new title of Assistant, and according to the rule book (which she obviously has memorized), also entails a raise. Bert is still taken in by her willingness to please and also her alluring sexy physical innuendoes which entice him to make further advances. Do new bosses generally get their secretaries on the couch that quickly under the guise of giving advice while massaging their feet?

The obvious immediate problem arises when O’Connor (who played the crafty maid in Blithe Spirit on Broadway, winning her a Theatre World Award), a superb actress who knows how to play the role that’s been given her to the hilt, shows the deep divide between herself and Cahn who has cast himself opposite her. It doesn’t work, as he’s no match for her talent-wise nor does his physicality conjure up the right image. Why playwrights do this, I don’t understand. Basically, Cahn is an academic.

The short, tight sultry outfits provided by costume designer Tristan Raines do everything but call out ‘come and get me’ as Patricia goes about finding out everything she can about Bert’s paybacks and positioning on the corporate ladder, making it easier for her to blackmail him into a tidy settlement once she perceives she won’t be taking over his job.

The story is old and there’s nothing new occurring here to make this ‘comedy’ remarkable so thank goodness it moves by quickly in the allotted 80 minutes that someone decided to divide into two acts!

The two room office by Joel Sherry captures the feeling of that dismal world of lying and deceit.

Getting the Business’ is presented by Rachel Reiner Productions and runs thru September 1st. www. Telecharge.com 212 239-6200.