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Office Hours
Poster. Courtesy of Phoenix Players

Office Hours By Norm Foster. Directed by Jo-Ann McCabe. Phoenix Players

It’s Friday afternoon at the office, or, more accurately, at six offices, and a regular day of preparing for the weekend away from the city.

The busy week included firing a couple of employees, having a sycophantic encounter with an alcoholic film director out of original ideas, dealing with a couple of potential suicides, a pushy salesman, a self-centred psychiatrist, a domineering mother who believes herself responsible for her son’s sexual orientation, an overweight jockey, a steamy novelist and a dead racehorse.

And playwright Norm Foster manages to connect them all — somewhat tenuously — through the six vignettes that make up his 1996 comedy Office Hours. Although not one the best plays that Canada’s most prolific playwright’s has penned, Office Hours is amusing light entertainment, sit-com style, peppered with his signature one-liners and some laugh-out-loud repartee,

 

For example, when the hefty jockey complains to his boss, “ If you were half the man your father was you wouldn’t be firing me,” the reply is, “If you were half the man your father was, you’d be the right weight, and I wouldn’t have to.”

In the Phoenix Players’ production of Office Hours, director Jo-Ann McCabe, her cast and crew keep the ambience light both literally and figuratively, in keeping with Foster’s tone in poking fun at office life and politics. Although electronic equipment has replaced the once much-touted Week-at-a-Glance diary repeatedly featured in the script, the rise and fall on the power tree have changed little and are well worth satirizing.

The strongest performances among the eight-member cast covering 16 roles come from Mike Kennedy as the aging television journalist and Puja Uppal as his officious and dismissive boss. Lyall Brown also has a particularly good moment in the spotlight with his cameo of a Frank Sinatra melody.

 

Anthony Neary’s “beehive” set of lighted hexagons forms an attractive backdrop for the offices and Connie Lavelle’s costumes are effective in underlining the character types.

 

Altogether, Office Hours, provides a pleasant and undemanding evening’s entertainment.

Note: Jo-Ann McCabe has said that this is her swansong as a director. I would like to add my appreciation of her many years of devotion to theatrical ventures to the comments included in the program.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Director: Jo-Ann McCabe

Set and lighting: Anthony Neary

Sound: Dan Litchinsky

Costumes: Connie Lavelle

 

Cast:

Warren Kimble/Lloyd Penny……………………………….Mike Kennedy

Pam Gerard/Sharon Freeman……………………………….Puja Uppal

One-armed man. Richard Penny/Neil Penny..……………..Geoff Blampied

Mark Young/Artie Barnes………………………………….Harold Swaffield

Gordon Blaine/Salesman/Stan Thurber…………………….Lyall Brown

Francine Majors/Ellie Young……………………………….Pat McColm

Bobby Holland……………………………………………..Joel Rahn

Rhonda Penny………………………………………………Barbara Stiles