Disruption AJ Baker (writer)
3Girls Theatre Company
3Girls Artistic Director AJ Baker tackles gender bias in this World Premiere of her twist on the #metoo movement. Certainly topical in our current climate of Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, Disruption’s protagonist is hard-edged CEO Andrea Powell, who must save her company from a public relations disaster. The initial whistle-blower case of wrongful termination quickly morphs into sexual harassment and Baker does a good job of exploring the dynamics of he-said, she said accusations and the blurring of workplace propriety and interpersonal friendships. Disruption’s problem is that is gets mired down in ever-expanding plot machinations that exhausted this viewer.
Sally Dana is convincing as ‘Andy’ Powell; tough and combative when her credibility is challenged. Heather Gordon does a nice turn as Powell’s Chief of Staff Cris Friend, eager to protect her boss at any cost. Louis Parnell (who also directs) and Nancy Madden play the legal eagles mediating the potential lawsuit. Timothy Roy Redmond plays Lazlo Elza, the skeevy accuser, working his romantic tryst into a money-making scheme.
Another problem is the static nature of the action; characters either stand or sit around a conference table leaving director Parnell little chance to enhance the play. Baker adds too many levels to the intrigues instead of focusing on a fewer elements. Powell did have a tryst with Lazlo in a moment of emotional weakness and the possible effects of alcohol. Now he’s being backed by both a rival law firm (whom Powell had defeated before in yet another sexual harassment suit) as well as a rival pharmaceutical firm eager to ruin Powell’s soon to be released wonder drug. Turns our Lazlo was relocated and offered a raise to silence him, unbeknownst to Powell.
Lazlo is never a sympathetic character, so its easy to root against him. He’s in it for the money and will negotiate up and down based on his interpretation of his chances. The women goad Powell to ‘grow a set’ and she plays a bluff game against Lazlo that ends in victory for her and her company, so I guess it all worked out well. Besides flipping the sexual harassment dynamic onto the woman, nothing new or illuminating is presented here; the accused woman acts much like a man might in the same circumstances. A case of turn-about is fair play?
Disruption continues through April 28, 2018 in production by Z Space at Z Below, 470 Florida Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available online at http://www.zspace.org/disruption or by calling 415.626.0453.