When a play’s title asks a question, it sets up its audience to answer. And the answer to Circle X Theatre Company’s Do You Feel Anger? is a resounding “yes.” Even the show’s press release promises there will be squirming. And there is, for a cascading waterfall of reasons.
Just about everything and everyone in this absurdist tragicomedy, by Mara Nelson-Greenberg, inspires squirmy anger. There are the two over-the-top appalling male executives, Howie (Rich Liccardo) and Jordan (Napoleon Tavale), who repeatedly howl about how they enjoy oral sex (not their term) without reciprocation. There’s the alternately simpering and screaming female worker, Eva (Tasha Ames), the target of repeated physical attacks in the office break room.
Then there’s Sofia (Paula Rebelo), an empathy coach sent to fix this beyond-dysfunctional debt collection agency as part of a lawsuit settlement. The boss Jon (Casey Smith) keeps asking her to sign off on the legally mandated form, despite continuing, if not worsening, issues.
Sofia’s not prepared for the all-id, superego-free louts who tell her how to dress and terrorize Eva. She hits on a solution that, well, makes her a lout as well. Spreading the pain, she blows off her hurting mother (Rose Portillo). Who are these people?
Charlotte Gulezian and a rotating cast of “Old Man” characters (John Getz at the performance I saw) round out the cast. The set, by Francois-Pierre Couture, is a classic conference room with whiteboard and a hint of bold corporate graphics through the open doorway.
Under the direction of Halena Kays, the cast does not hold back. Do You Feel Anger? is wall-to-wall acting out by characters who are meant to illustrate #MeToo stereotypes but crash beyond that macho/victim dichotomy, into the land of absurdity. Does this ramping up reinforce or undermine the playwright’s point? That’s for the buffeted audience to decide.
Do You Feel Anger? from Circle X Theatre Company runs through Feb. 25 at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm. and Sundays at 2:00p.m. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here.
About Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Neo Ensemble Theatre in Hollywood.
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