Dana DeRuyck, Gabriel Oliva and Brian Stanton in Final Interview
Getting the job is the least of the problems in Final Interview, a world premiere play written by and starring Gabriel Oliva, now playing at Pico Playhouse. Oliva plays third-time interviewee Clayton; his foil is his interviewer, pompous construction company executive Charles (Brian Stanton).
Despite passing two interview hurdles to get to the executive’s sound-proof office, Clayton comes across as nervous and unprepared. He overshares, makes inappropriate remarks and blows the simplest of job interview questions, like “What’s your greatest strength?”
Charles cuts the interview short, clearly not impressed by the job-hunter. But Clayton surprises him, suddenly claiming unique knowledge that could ultimately save his prospective employer significant money. Intrigued, Charles agrees to extend the interview.
The power reversal initiated by Charles’ thirst for increased profits and Clayton’s wish for more time in the room sets the main action in motion. From there, Final Interview veers between comedy and thriller, hostage situation and screed on corporate ruthlessness and the personal trauma it can cause.
Director Katierose Donahue-Enriquez builds action cleverly as the two men maneuver around the office space, well-designed by Annie Terrazzo. From desktop distractions to audible voicemails, the details reinforce the tension. Oliva’s script drops the amusing banter and gets to the point.
Both Oliva and Stanton bring the pathos to their high-stakes game. They convincingly display a wide range of emotion, from nebishy to cold-blooded, arrogant to desperate. They get physical, with well-choreographed fighting that actually looks dangerous.
Secretary Tessa (a charming Dana DeRuyck) has less to do, offering food and drink and remaining unaware of what’s going on behind the office door. The role feels gratuitous, not adding to the main conflict. That conflict raises important issues and keeps the audience guessing.
Final Interview plays on Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28 at 8:00pm and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7:00pm. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here. Pico Playhouse is located at 10508 W. Pico Blvd., near Beverly Glen. There’s plenty of street parking.