By: Darryl Reilly
“Send me your most hopeless.” So, describes the aged psychotherapist Loyd of his ethos in playwright Max Wolf Friedlich’s galvanizing two-character psychological thriller, Job. Jane is a troubled young tech worker who had a viral video raw workplace breakdown several months ago. She is in Loyd’s San Francisco office for a mental evaluation to determine if she is stable enough to return to work. In 70-suspenseful minutes, Mr. Friedlich offers an engrossing paranoia mystery containing sharp twists and turns depicting contemporary life in the Internet age, culminating in an unsettling powerhouse finale. Job has been brought to the stage with high-caliber theatricality.
Television series Succession performers Peter Friedman and Sydney Lemmon are awesome as Loyd and Jane. The clash of generations and the power dynamic between men and woman are brilliantly evoked by this supreme duo’s engaging teamwork. The veteran Mr. Friedman who is dressed in casual clothes and sports a visible earring, gives a delightful portrayal of a magnanimous glass-crafting flower power boomer. With his calm presence and measured voice, Friedman conveys concern, corporate duplicity and repugnance for present-day society, while landing jokes galore.
The lean, animated and soulful Ms. Lemmon in gray slacks, sneakers and a striped top, veers from subdued to explosive during her shattering characterization of an idealist traumatized by a cold-hearted profession. Lemmon’s searing performance totally fulfills the author’s intentions for ambiguity in the shocking unforseen dénouement. Whether Jane is right or wrong about her lurid allegations is the play’s concluding lynchpin which succeeds through Lemmon’s believability and fearlessness.
Director Michael Herwitz finely calibrates the soaring performances while orchestrating the dazzling stagecraft on display, resulting in a mesmerizing, jolting and increasingly queasy presentation. Scenic designer Scott Penner’s raised and immaculately furnished contained office set is the perfect claustrophobic landscape for this intense tale. Portions of Job take place in Jane’s addled mind and are comprehensively realized by the unity of Mextly Couzin’s furious lighting design and Jessie Char and Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s smashing sound design. Costume designer Michelle Li’s distinctive fashion sense render the two characters with visual authenticity.
With its piercing writing, fierce acting and arresting production, Job is a stimulating and provocative experience. The sold-out play was performed throughout the fall and winter of 2023 at a different Off-Broadway theater: this return engagement features the original cast and creative team.
Job (through March 3, 2024)
Connelly Theater, 220 East 4th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit www.jobtheplay.com
Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission