99 Layoffs (Love in the Time of Pink Slips)

Produced by Radial Theater Project, Vincent Delaney's new play is a must-see for comedy fans. 99 Layoffs is an absurd (but coherent) romance in which two job-seekers chronically leap-frog over and around each other in pursuit of the one gig available at any given time. Their hellish double helix of ambition and disaffection spans numerous jobs and provides the strong thematic spine that so many modern plays lack. It also lends an urgent, Odets-like cri de coeur in the face of a seriously unfair economy. K. Brian Neel and Aimée Bruneau are perfectly cast for their plasticity and—how else to put it?—interestingness. As Orson, Neel liquefies his entire body into a puddle on the floor every time he has to shake an interviewer's hand. In one memorable temp gig, he diddles odd disco moves while wearing a giant frosted and sprinkled donut hole costume (kudos to costumer Julia Evanovich for the nightmare-inducing getup). As Louella (plus various smaller roles), Bruneau keeps it real, but not predictable. Even in the vignettes where Louella and Orson exchange emails about their shrinking dreams and growing despair, her subtle facial expressions precision-steer like a Lotus—a godsend for director David Gassner, given Delaney's penchant for mercurial mood shifts. MARGARET FRIEDMAN Extended through Aug. 26.

Thursdays-Saturdays; Sun., Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Aug. 2. Continues through Aug. 26, 2012

 
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