Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Undergrad Gurney

Holly Chou and Megan Langdon in Office Hours (photo by Richard Termine)

Office Hours
Written by A.R. Gurney
Directed by Jim Simpson
Starring Holly Chou, Louiza Collins, Tommy Crawford, Bjorn DuPaty, Katherine Folk-Sullivan, Andy Gershenzon, Raúl Sigmund Julia, Betsy Lippitt, Maren Langdon, Turna Mete, John Russo and Wilton Yeung

September 18-October 24, 2010
Flea Theater, 41 White Street

A. R. Gurney’s Office Hours, an amusing riff on a still-pertinent argument—over the domination of “dead white men” in literature—doesn’t have much of substance to add to the debate, but its good-naturedness makes it an easy-to-take 90-minute comedy.

At an unnamed university in the mid-70s, faculty and students are dealing with the fall-out over whether a required introductory literature course, “The Western Tradition,” is on the chopping block. Divided into ten short scenes that begin at 9 am in September and end at 6 pm in June, Office Hours comprises conversations or confrontations between professors and students (or other teachers) about plagiarism, Hitler, Vietnam, closeted homosexuality and adultery. As usual with Gurney, there are many throwaway zingers, mainly at the expense of the pretentiousness of Higher Learning, but for all the talk about Aeschylus, Thucydides, Plato and King Lear, there’s very little in the way of insight.

It all goes down rather innocuously, even when the characters spar over why they should or shouldn’t drop certain authors for others who are more “current,“ trendy or politically correct. But Gurney’s wit keeps things percolating, and with Jim Simpson spiffily directing energetic young performers from the Flea’s acting troupe, the Bats (the “Dante” cast includes two real finds in actresses Maren Langdon and Betsy Lippitt, who deftly handle multiple roles), Office Hours is worth a visit.

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