Review: Office Hours (East Side Players)

Office Hours East Side PlayersOffice Hours is a hilarious collection of vignettes playing at the Papermill Theatre in Toronto

Office Hours is a hoot that’s brilliantly written and dynamically performed. Playing at Toronto’s Papermill Theatre, this collection of six workplace vignettes occur in the same city on a Friday afternoon, and they are cleverly connected by a ledge-jumper, a dead horse, a steamy book, a statue needing a loin cloth and, most notably, a “Week at a Glance” agenda. You’ll surely get a kick out of this comedy by Canadian playwright Norm Foster. 

In the newsroom office, news producer Pam (Lindsay Bryan), who worked her way up the ladder without paying her dues takes a reporter Warren (stand-out Thomas O’Neill) off the screen because of his age. The wit of Foster’s hyphen-heavy script really comes through here, thanks to Warren’s rehearsal of lines he absolutely longs to say face-to-face. Poor Warren has us rooting for him: who hasn’t mentally practiced over and over again the the lines we wish we could say at work? I give my compliments to Bryan and O’Neill for their fast-paced exchanges that added energy to the scene. O’Neill was fantastic at displaying pent-up frustration through clenched fists and a face that went from angry to accommodating at lightning speed depending on whether or not the boss was in the room.

In another office, movie producers Gordon (Robert McMullan) and Francine (Jean Ireton) are about to meet a has-been director Bobby Holland (Fabian Levy-Hara). After Gordon repeatedly asks Francine to refrain from sucking up, Gordon is responsible for the shameless flattery. No-nonsense and business-like, Ireton did a great job of being the voice of reason, and McMullan effectively demonstrated desperation through his overly sweet voice.

At the law firm, entertainment lawyer Richard (Robert Magee) reveals to his soft-spoken father Lloyd (Brian Cain) and out-spoken mother Rhonda (Lynn Oldershaw) that he is gay. Rhonda steals her son’s thunder by making the conversation about her theory that domineering mothers make boys gay. Oldershaw’s delivery of Rhonda’s assumptions about homosexuality, about the steamy book, about the secretary Tammy are dry, brow-beating and downright hilarious. Her upright posture and stern face are a perfect contrast to Cain’s defeated look.

Hats off to director Mandi Sunshine and her cast for the fast-paced timing of the snappy lines, and more compliments are in order for the creativity of the scene changes. I was particularly amused by the masked thieves who stole items, and the house cleaners who did some tidying up. I also loved the simplicity of the set; each workplace setting became distinct by basic changes in decor like artwork and drinks.

Foster is a witty, comedic genius, and Office Hours is must-see if you want to spend your evening cracking up. And once you see the surprise ending, your sides will split!

Details

  • Office Hours is playing at the Papermill Theatre (67 Pottery Road) until June 10, 2017
  • Tickets are $24 for adults, and $15 for students.
  • Tickets can be purchased online or at the door (no debit) or by calling the Box Office at 416-425-0917.
  • There is a short intermission.

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