The illustration on the cover of the program would lead you to believe that this is a play about the fortunes of stock market players. It’s not.
We All Fall Down is more along the lines of A Clockwork Orange meets M*A*S*H.
Galahad (Stephen Laferriere), a recent college grad, applies for an entry level position at The Corporation. The only thing straight up at this company is the lettering on the wall, and even that isn’t as simple as it looks. Galahad is greeted by CEO Jones (Andrew Langton) whose energy level is at once engaging and unnerving. Jones’ daughter Teri (Caitlin Thurnauer) soon appears to show Galahad his duties at the front desk, explaining that the phone never rings because they don’t provide a service and therefore have no customers. What they do have is a staff whose dysfunction ranges from severe to more severe to way severe, and when Galahad inquires what the company’s business really is, he is met with sweet laughter or maniacal accusations, neither of which are reliable barometers.
With the appearance of Ronald (John Anderson) the play comes to life. Buried in this character’s story is a beginning, middle, and (too bad for us) an end. From the minute Ronald walks onstage it is clear this man is marching to the tune of a different orchestra, and Anderson walks this razor’s edge with a dancer’s grace. Unfortunately none of the other characters is defined as well, and thus the show bogs down because there is no there there.
Playwright Nick Dujnic is a clever writer. The characters are bizarre and remote, intimate and intriguing. Dujnic understands dialogue and how to skew it so we are treated to some fabulous exchanges. The first act has a parade of inviting set-ups among a round robin of characters. But then the second act catapults out of the theater never to return, and the unfortunate actors are marooned. The journey of Galahad gets lost in the goulash of the second act, squeezed in between blowjobs, face slaps, an assortment of kicks and punches (the gratuitous violence is never justified and is frequent enough to make you worry about Laferriers’s safety), and a crippling headache that has him bunched up in a ball for the better part of five minutes.
Kevin Diamond’s direction is uninspired at best. The Corporation staff exit the elevator, cross stage right, and enter the mysterious rear office, through a door that would have given them better egress had it been hinged on the opposite side, over and over and over again. This and other monotonous blocking serves to underscore the weaknesses in the script. A more inventive approach would have been welcome.
This is an exciting company. Despite the weakness of the second act, the cast never faltered. I was engaged by their skill from start to finish. As to Dujnic – he has miles to go before he sleeps, and I am looking forward to his next production. We All Fall Down comes close to hitting its mark. It is a parable for our time awaiting its own conclusion.
WE ALL FALL DOWN – by Nick Dujnic, Directed by Kevin Diamond. With Paul Gagnon, Stephen LaFerriere, Andre Langton, Caitlin Thurnauer, John Anderson, Lucas Kavner, Courtney Rost and Taylor Sele. Set Design – Aaron Gensler and Christina Galvez, Costume Design – TV Alexander, Lighting Design – R. Allen Babcock.