Toward the end of Charlotte Meehan’s black comedy Work, a cadre of corporate executives prepares to ritually eat a co-worker. The sacrifice is forestalled, but the message is clear: The business world is a brutal, bloodthirsty place. Sexual favors, sadomasochistic punishments, even the occasional shooting are part of company policy in Meehan’s unnamed workplace. All of this is nothing new, of course. Declamations against corporate brutality have been part of our dramatic tradition at least since The Adding Machine. Meehan tries to make her case more strongly than most, but few will be surprised to learn that the business world can be demeaning, cold, and cruel. The real question is how this situation affects the individuals caught in it. Director Jim Simpson hints at this in the gleeful pleasure he has his cast adopt in their most brutal interactions, but only Audrey Lynn Weston as the company’s artsy misanthrope (“Have any of you ever even seen a foreign film?” she asks) approaches a full characterization. After she’s finally adopted the heartless ways of her co-workers, she pauses to consider what she’s become. In a play that thrives on disturbing images, this brief moment of self-reflection is one of the least bloody and most chilling.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 31, 2005