Ever go to a bar with a bunch of people who all work together, who then proceed to gripe about their petty workplace grievances the whole time? It makes for a pretty demoralizing evening. That’s what it’s like watching Tom Diriwachter’s Age Out, now running at Theater for the New City in a production directed by Jonathan Weber. This new play about the highs and (mostly) lows of the waitering profession will make you think twice about asking for a slice of lemon in your water next time—lest you become fodder for cranky playwrights.
Waiting tables is a noble and necessary occupation: We all want dinner, and someone has to bring it to us. It can be unpleasant, as any job that puts you in prolonged contact with demanding humanity can be. But it is hardly, as Diriwachter’s characters whine repeatedly, the worst job in the world. (Garbagemen and day laborers, speak up!) It’s also not really the stuff of serious drama, at least as Diriwachter presents it.
Here’s Age Out’s plot in a nutshell: One night, a customer is very rude to Tim (Bob Homeyer), a seasoned waiter. Pulling a Steven Slater, he flips out, and impugns the patron’s knowledge of restaurant mores. After his sleazy boss threatens to write him up for the outburst, he smashes a rack of glassware, and stomps off to a nearby bar, where his buddies gather to console him, ruminating bitterly on the decline of the service industry and the terrible requirements of tourists who—the morons!—need to hear the list of available side orders more than once.
That’s all that happens. Tim grudgingly considers joining his father’s real estate business, or somehow blackmailing the manager into taking him back, but mostly we hear about how much he and his bros hate the people they serve. They also hate women: I’ve never heard the word “tits” so many times in one play, and all the females discussed are either sluts, ditzes, or strippers. Diriwachter may think this kind of misogyny sounds like David Mamet, but it actually sounds like hysterical overcompensation. (Maybe this is the point, but I doubt it, somehow.)
The play is apparently based on Diriwachter’s own real-life career as a server in a Times Square restaurant. I’d say he shouldn’t have quit his day job, but the area’s tourists are probably much safer now during mealtimes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 19, 2011