Disruption adds a twist to the #metoo movement at Z-Space Below

Timothy Roy Redmond (Lazlo) negotiates with Andy Powell (Sally Dana). Photo by Mario Parnell.

DISRUPTION: Drama by AJ Baker; Directed by Louis Parnell. 3Girls Theatre Company, Z Space Below, 470 Florida St, San Francisco, CA. www.3girlstheatre.org.  April 5-28, 2018.Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8

Disruption adds a twist to the #metoo movement at Z-Space Below Rating: ★★★☆☆

The world premiere of Disruption by 3 Girls Theatre Company has both universal and local components creating an unexpected twist that is thoughtful and almost plausible. Consider the possibilities of a sexual harassment suit by a male employee against a female superior. That is the twist in Disruption that was the 2017 winner of the New Works Festival.

The protagonist and target is Dr. Andrea “Andy” Powell (Sally Dana) the CEO of a Silicon Valley Pharmaceutical company that is being threatened by a former mid-level employee who falsely questions the validity of the results of clinical trials of a miracle weight reduction drug. That drug is on the verge of being approved and the whistle-blower is about to go public. That would mean a huge loss of income and jeopardy to the woman CEO. 

To avoid a public trial the case is going into private mediation with $2000/hour arbitrator Judge Manny Diamond (Louis Parnell) to protect Andy personally and the company particularly. In actuality it is protect the company first and a female CEO second. Early during mediation it becomes evident that questioning the drug trials was just a ploy to get the ball rolling. In actuality it is a sexual harassment accusation.   

The male whistle-blower is former mid-level employee Laszlo Elza (Timothy Roy Redmond) who has had a consensual one night fling with Andy. There is the suggestion that Laszlo was banished to the Mexico office and later fired due to the sex. The high pressure milieu for a female who has broken the glass ceiling is palpable but not too clearly defined until late in the play.

Aiding in the mediation is Andy’s chief-of-staff Chris Friend (Heather Gordon) who seems to secretly place her own agenda first thus adding complications to the proceedings. The final character in the mix is Andy’s personal attorney Vivian Starr (Nancy Madden). She is the best written character since author Baker is a practicing lawyer. Vivian Starr nails that role.

There is a flaw in the plot construction that is blatant but is necessary to reach a too pat conclusion. In this 11 scene play Baker has inserted four private liaison scenes between Andy and Laszlo. It is highly improbable that the antagonists in a legal suit would ever be allowed to meet without their attorneys present.

Sally Dana projects strength amidst vulnerability especially with her description of circumstances revolving around her home life within a pressure leadership role in business. Heather Gordon playing the secretive chief–of-staff uses her sly acting skills to almost make the role believable.  Redmond perfectly handles the difficult task of changing Laszlo Elza from a self-assured blackmailer to sniveling loser. The always competent Louis Parnell sneaks a dollop of humor in the role of mediator.

As the director, Parnell prevents the evening from being a “talk fest” adroitly moving his characters on Jeff Wincek’s smart multi-area set. Running time is about 90 minutes without intermission.

CAST: Sally Dana as Dr. Andrea “Andy” Powell, Heather Gordon as Cris Friend, Nancy Madden as Vivian Starr, Louis Parnell as Judge Manny Diamond & Timothy Roy Redmond as Laszlo Elza.

CREATIVE TEAM: Set/Properties Design, Jeff Wincek;  Costume Design, Brooke Jennings;   Sound Design, Lance Jabr; Lighting/Tech Design, Brendan Lee; Stage Manager, Renae Davison; Production Manager, Zach Kopciak; Dramaturg, Bill Bivins.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of  www.theatreworldim2.com.

 

 

  1. AJ Baker
    AJ Baker04-15-2018

    Hi Kedar — thanks so much for coming to Disruption, and I’m glad you enjoyed the performances of our wonderful cast and appreciated Louis’ outstanding direction. Just FYI: you are incorrect in your statement that during a mediation of this sort, the lawyers would not permit the clients to speak directly to each other. In fact, that is a common technique that we use to get something going behind the scenes. It frequently works because it gets around the posturing that lawyers are required to do on behalf of their clients. This type of mediation is not a formal process, and the NDA mentioned would make it impossible to use anything that was said during the mediation between the parties in any actual lawsuit. We tried to make that clear to the layperson (by Vivian explaining to to Andy) but I guess you didn’t believe her! It frequently works. Any big firm transactional attorney has a war story about how back-channels saved the day. Anyway, thanks again for coming to the show and taking the time to review it.