Debt-defying Acts


James Rasheed rips a page from David Mamet’s notebook with Professional Skepticism. Or, since Rasheed’s dramedy centers on a group of duplicitous CPAs at a Southern accounting firm, perhaps one should say it’s drawn from a Mamet-esque ledger.

The play’s below-the—Mason-Dixon Line milieu means it’s not filled with the scatological epithets we associate with Mamet. But as alpha-male team leader Leo (Steve French) shepherds two underlings through a rush-job audit of a company belonging to one of their boss’s best buds, Machiavellian backstabbing pervades. Leo isn’t the only guy who has to make it through the audit and the firm’s impending merger: The sweetly nerdy Paul (Matthew J. Nichols) and rising new hire Greg (Wesley Thornton) must also manage to simultaneously survive and shine. Even their fun-loving, hard-drinking colleague Margaret (Britney Burgess) must use her Southern drawl and charm to thrive at the company. It comes as little surprise, then, that when the audit reveals potential financial improprieties, one of these sharks in CPA suits smells blood, recognizing how to use the potential scandal to his advantage.

Rasheed, who worked at a firm similar to Professional Skepticism‘s, knows his characters well, and the play often crackles with rich dialogue and keen detail. But his overladen plot, director Kareem Fahmy’s strangely laid-back staging, and a needless intermission combine to sap this 90-minute piece’s momentum. It’s a lunge at the accounting world’s jugular that, though promising, falls short.