Written by: Aaron Loeb. Directed by: Gus Menary. At: Jackalope Theater Company Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway. Tickets: JackalopeTheatre.org: $15-25. Runs through: June 17
What if you were assigned a task at work that could potentially kill other human beings? That is the premise behind Ideation, Aaron Loeb's drama/comedy being produced by Jackalope Theater company at the Broadway Armory.
A successful team headed by family man Ted ( Michael Kingston ) and Brock ( Japhet Balaban ) have to decide on a means of killing and disposing of people infected with a pandemic. They have engineer Sandeep ( Kaiser Zaki Ahmed ) for the details and corporate executive Hannah ( Rachel Sullivan ) overseeing the project. A hapless intern, Sooter ( Henry Greenberg ), is there to write everything down. Their overall job is to whiteboard their suggestions and plan and present it to this all powerful god-like CEO.
This is a well-written and -acted drama with lots of comedy. As they write on the board, things get more and more intense. Eventually, they start becoming paranoid and turn on one anotherbecoming a bit "Ten Little Indians," with everyone pointing the finger and not trusting each another. It's 90 minutes with no intermission, and the time flies by because it's very engrossing.
Michael Kingston's Ted is blustery and exasperated; at times, I wasn't sure if his sputtering was nerves with the script or his acting choice. One can't help but identify with his need to just get this all over with. The play belongs to Japhet Balaban as Brock, his arrogant intense performance really brings everything together in this piece. Rachel Sullivan's Hannah gives voice to the women in the office who have to be tougher than their male counterparts just to get respect. Kaiser Zaki Ahmed's Sandeep is funny and his break to bring humanity to their discussion rings true. Unfortunately Sullivan and Ahmed do not have good chemistry together which makes their relationship slightly unbelievable. Henry Greenberg's Scooter is amusing and you wish he was in the action more.
Overall, director Gus Menary keeps things moving and interesting in a one set environment, a meeting room. This play seems to be about many things. Who are the villains? The ones who actually kill people or the people who put those plans in motion? Where in the chain is the responsible party? When does discussing a plan become the plan? When the killing starts, how do you know you won't be next? These are just a few of the things that come to mind. A very thought-provoking but funny play, it's definitely worth seeing.