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ASSISTANCE OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS
Opening Night: February 3, 2012
Synopsis: For these young assistants, life is an endless series of humiliations at the hands of their hellacious boss, a powerful uber-magnate. In rare moments of calm when the phone calls stop rolling, Nick and Nora and their traumatized co-workers question whether all their work will lead to success -- or just more work. Leslye Headland's Assistance is a biting, high-octane satire about our attraction to power and what we're willing to sacrifice to stay in its orbit.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:
"Disgruntled underlings serving abusive bosses are likely to be the most avid audience for “Assistance,” a comedy by Leslye Headland that opened on Tuesday night at Playwrights Horizons. If you are not intimately familiar with the term “rolling calls” — the process of placing, returning and avoiding phone calls with the precision of Cirque du Soleil performers doing somersaults on a high wire — you may find yourself mystified by Ms. Headland’s thin-as-a-Post-it-note play about the strains of toiling for an employer who has the ability to make and destroy careers and the emotional maturity of a pre-adolescent."
"Leslye Headland's new social comedy, "Assistance," lacks the savage bite of her 2011 hit "Bachelorette" (which the scribe also adapted and directed as a film for this year's Sundance Festival), and if there's an actual plot buried somewhere in the circular storyline, it's well hidden. There's still beaucoup satiric wit in this manic look at ambitious young Gotham professionals having spectacular meltdowns as they claw their way up the ladder of success. Bright cast assembled by helmer Trip Cullman (who also directed "Bachelorette") makes this workplace madness look like fun."
"If you're one of the 33 percent of Americans (according to a recent survey) who's unhappy in their current job, you'll feel much better after seeing the haggard, headset-wearing, broken-down, beaten-up drones in Leslye Headland's sharp, punchy comedy Assistance at Off Broadway's Playwrights Horizons (through March 11). Nondescript Nick (Michael Esper) and newly arrived Nora (Virginia Kull, who does a beautiful nervous breakdown) are among the unfortunate souls toiling morning, noon, and night for Daniel Weisinger, an unseen, larger-than-life figure who...well, we're never told what he does for a living, except phone periodically to destroy his employees' self esteem and correct their grammar. He does, however, bear a striking resemblance to movie-studio chief Harvey Weinstein, for whom Headland once worked. (Assistance is no hatchet job, though, and one imagines the two are on good terms. At this year's Sundance Film Festival, the Weinstein Company snapped up Bachelorette, the Kirsten Dunst-starring film adaptation of Headland's terrific 2010 stage comedy.)"
"The workplace drama may not be predominantly American (Arnold Wesker’s Brit classic The Kitchen is a model example), but we Yanks have labored at it: Classics as diverse as The Front Page, Jitney and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying find humor and pathos in clock-punchers bonded through nine-to-five routines and jargon. David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is an icon of the genre, a portrait of office life as locus of soul-curdling bitterness, rivalry and broken dreams. Leslye Headland’s viciously funny Assistance aspires to be a Gen Y Glengarry with a sweeter finish and a place for women. As in Mamet, the violence is verbal and the stakes exist in inverse proportion to the characters’ desperate pursuit of them."
"Fun fact: After graduating from NYU, playwright Leslye Headland (“Bachelorette”) briefly worked as Harvey Weinstein’s personal assistant. Now, a tyrannical tycoon looms over her blistering new comedy."
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