Entertainment Theater

‘Job’ Assessment: A Stress Check That Feels Like It’s Life or Dying

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“Job,” a good, 80-minute play by Max Wolf Friedlich, is full of so many concepts that it appears to broaden past the partitions of the tiny SoHo Playhouse the place it opened this week. However claustrophobia units in as, all through one session, a younger affected person and an older hippie disaster therapist confront the turbulence of life within the stomach of the cyber-beast.

Because the play opens, the therapist, Loyd (Peter Friedman), is attempting to assuage the agitated Jane (Sydney Lemmon), who’s pointing a gun at his head. Stress has gotten the higher of her, culminating in a smartphone-era calamity: A video of her breakdown at work went viral. Not feeling secure and nonetheless clearly unwell, Jane however has an industrial-grade resolve to return to her job at a Bay Space tech behemoth. This psychological analysis will decide if that’s doable.

Loyd, quietly happy by his popularity for dealing with lost-cause circumstances, begins to tease out her anxieties, however quickly finds Jane’s preoccupations with the various sorts of violence dedicated worldwide a tricky internet to untangle — and to distance himself from.

As Jane, Lemmon captures the frenetic essence of an individual overwhelmed, and in the end paralyzed, by all of the live-streamed killings taking part in repeatedly throughout a seemingly detached web. Although a sufferer of her trade’s grind mentality, Jane doesn’t come off as a martyr: Her acid-tongued clapbacks and finger-pointing hardly really feel excusable.

Lemmon searingly personifies her character’s contradictions on her personal, but the manufacturing, nimbly directed by Michael Herwitz, additionally dips into her overstimulated psyche, as when laptop clicks set off speedy successions of TikTok-like sensory overload, with Jessie Char and Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s sound design blasting cacophonous drilling noises and porn sounds.

Although Friedman’s character is the extra passive one, he imbues Loyd’s counterarguments with a real ardour — intensely speaking with Jane about our uneasy relationships to social justice, household, private achievement and trauma within the cyber age.

As they unveil extra about themselves, a late revelation practically undoes the play by flattening the open-ended moral questions it had so appealingly been posing. The play has to wrap up one way or the other, however this abrupt shift lands us in a completely completely different style.

Friedlich’s intelligent updating of the generational-divide format isn’t undermined by the play’s thematic vastness. And it’s refreshing to see characters who usually are not afraid of their mind, or really feel the necessity to condescend by slowing down their high-speed streams of life-or-death consciousness.

Via Oct. 15 at SoHo Playhouse, Manhattan; sohoplayhouse.com. Operating time: 1 hour 20 minutes.