Theater Review: Temping

By: Robert Massimi 


Temping at Dutch Kills Theater is a play brilliantly put forth in these peculiar times. An immersive play, it involves just one person, seated at a desk and working as a temp for an actuary firm. Like going to the office, you are given a desk, a computer, a phone and of course a Brother printer. Not an easy field to work in, being thrown into a desk as a temp with no knowledge of how an actuary does his job but that is all part of the fun. The audience member is given instructions on how to answer messages, given further instructions on the computer and receives some of the wackiest of information via the Brother. 


Written by Michael Yates Crowley, Temping was first put in workshop in 2014. It has since played at theaters from University of Maryland, NYTW Adelphi, NYFF53 Lincoln Center, American Repertory Theater, University of Ottawa, and now at The Wild Project in The East Village. Crowley has written a decent body of work (there were times when the writing lagged), as it is unusual to be in an office that at first seems friendly and professional but is anything but. The temp overhears fighting between co-workers, flirtatious printouts from who knows who and employees trying to cover their tracks from mishaps in the office. 


Filling in for Sarah Jane Tully who is over winded and ditsy in her computer recordings, she is able to figure out the life expectancy of an airline pilot, she tells me how risky her trip to Hawaii is. She tells me that she has been with the company for seventeen and a half years and how carpal tunnel syndrome has forced her to take this vacation. She goes on to explain all the employees at the company and what each person’s function is and what their strengths and weaknesses are. In the movie Along Came Polly, we get a funny understanding of how this profession works; people are able through mathematics to determine a person’s life expectancy with accurate confidence. 


In good fun, every time you make a mistake (which is often at the beginning), you get a friendly email that reminds you that even though you’re a temp, you must get your act together and do the assignments right. Having a blunder usually means a follow up by the printer telling you to get with it. A phone message usually follows shortly after by one of the employees telling you not to worry about your mistake. In a typical cubical work place, director Michael Rau has made this work place all too familiar with the secrets, the mistakes, the high pressure that people are watching and at any time, someone could get fired. In the set design by Sara C. Walsh, we have the sticky pads, the coffee cup and even some nice candy bars to snack on while we work. 


As the show goes on, the deceased list grows and as it grows, Brother prints out a humorous eulogy of the people who have perished. Unusual and unconventional, Temping was a welcome respite for the theater starved critic or chronic theater goer. The show opened on October 23rd and ran until December 4th. The play can only handle one person at a time, but it has many runs throughout the day as well as evening. The running time is only fifty minutes; however, it is a fun fifty minutes. Temping will make you want to be back at the theater again, it will also make you miss the office. The play gives us a double dose of nostalgia; being among co-workers and being at the theater. 


The Wild Project is located at 195 East 3rd St between Avenues A and B in The East Village.


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