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Theater review: 'tempOdyssey' at Art/Works Theatre

April 29, 2010 |  6:30 pm
400.tempOdyssey photo 1 Hamlet and Sartre be damned. Temps, those human office supplies, are the real existential experts. “Being and non-being. In an office, but not of the office,” explains Genny (Devin Sidell), the heroine of Dan Dietz’s terrific “tempOdyssey.” A kind of “Alice in Wonderland” meets “The Office,” this surreal portrait of a short-term hire on the edge of a nervous breakdown is now receiving an exuberant and long overdue West Coast premiere by needtheater.

Escaping the horrors of her family’s Georgia poultry farm, Genny flees cross country to disappear into a string of temporary gigs in Seattle. Within minutes of arriving at a particularly anonymous corporation, she’s verbally bludgeoned by the boss (Ted Jonas), nearly strangled by her predecessor (Melli Vytlacil) and sneaks cigarettes with a cubicle rebel (Liam Springthorpe). Things get curiouser and curiouser on Adam Rigg’s witty set, a wall of chartreuse filing cabinets out of which emerge secret files, dead people, a number of metaphors and the Jane’s Revenge, an explosive device with the power to level downtown.

Goofily attracted, Springthorpe and Sidell recall Chaplin and Paulette Godard, adrift in post-Modern Times but longing for connection in director Emily Weisberg’s acute and emotional grounded production. Dietz sometimes lets the play get away from him, but even an incomplete ending can’t blunt the exhilarating punch of this wild and engaging experiment.

– Charlotte Stoudt

“tempOdyssey,” Art/Works Theatre, 6567 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays. Ends May 23. $15 and $20. Contact: (323) 795-2215 or Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Photo: Liam Springthorpe and Devin Sidell. Credit: Courtesy of needtheater.