Friday, February 17, 2012

Playwrights Horizons Gets Hip

Assistance at Playwrights Horizons may be the hippest play off-Broadway right now. It has a hot young cast, writer (Leslye Headland), and director (Trip Cullman), a sleek set, pulsating music, and funny, fast-paced dialogue. My friend over at Tapeworthy commented that it would make a good TV show, and I completely agree. Even the trailer below (avoid if you're worried about spoilers) feels ready for primetime.

Daniel Korins' pitch-perfect set grounds you in the downtown New York office environment immediately. The play takes place over the course of a few years at the office of Daniel Weisinger, the abusive boss who we never see. Nick (Michael Esper) is the one constant as assistants rotate in and out. In the first scene, Vince (Lucas Near-Verbugghe) is moving to his new office after a promotion, prepping Nick to take over as head assistant. Nora (Virginia Kull), working her way up the corporate ladder in her dreams of becoming the next Daniel, is starting her first day on the job, and the hope is that she will eventually take over for Nick when he gets his promotion. We never find out what Daniel does, which makes sense because if Headland had specified, the play might become more about a particular industry, but at the same time, it would have been nice to have some insight into why these people torture themselves working for such an awful person and still look up to him. The play doesn't really tread new ground--stories about horrible bosses have been done--and yet it the more I think about it, the more I want to see it again. There are so many conversations that ring true, such as when coworkers start to get silly in the late hours and it is so much fun to watch the cast in these moments, Esper especially, once again proving to be one of the most magnetic actors of his age. Sue Jean Kim as the spastic Heather and Bobby Steggert as mentally unstable Justin don't appear in many scenes, but they each deliver a memorable, show-stopping monologue. Amy Rosoff as the seemingly self-assurred Jenny stuns in the play's final scene. I won't reveal the coup de theatre here, but let's just say it's reason enough to see Assistance.

For a discount code to Assistance, click here.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Note: The production officially opens on February 28, but I was invited to a preview and asked to post my thoughts.


Anonymous said...

when did you see this show? is it in previews now?

Linda said...

I saw the show on February 12. Previews began on February 3.

Touchofgr3y said...

Thank you again for posting about the Under 30 event! We went and had a great time & never would have known about it if you hadn't posted :)

holly said...

Twitter Party to Celebrate the New Show, ASSISTANCE, and to Dish About the World of ASSISTANTS - tonight at 9pm EST via @mamadramany - Use hashtag: #Assistance