‘The Receptionist’ is a Lot More Than Just a Pretty Face

What a great outer office with its very expensive paneled walls and elegant reception desk. The receptionist is busy fielding calls, routing them to voice mail, and, when not busy, talking to her errant husband and girl friends. Everything is so normal. We soon find that all of this opulence supports a branch office of only three people.

Cygnet Theatre’s west coast premiere of Adam Bock’s The Receptionist starts, not in the outer office of the Northeast Office, but with the boss, Mr. Edward Raymond played by Dale Morris, explaining the finer points of fishing and, of more importance, the morality of catching fish and throwing them back. It is an interesting prologue with deeper meaning.

In the office is receptionist Beverly Wilkins (Melinda Gilb).

Gilb is totally convincing fielding calls, gossiping with friends, and chastising her husband, Bob. It is all so mundane. Lorraine Taylor (Jo Anne Glover), who is perennially late for work, has one of the two offices and an undefined job. Her love life is in a constant shambles. The two small-talk it for some time. Just a normal morning before the crush of business begins, except at Northeast Office there doesn’t seem to be a crush of business.

Enter Martin Dart (Sean Cox) in search of Mr. Raymond, who is very late today. In a lighthearted incongruity, Ms. Taylor banters and flirts with the home office guy. Hmm. Worse yet, he flirts back rather broadly. It gets a bit silly. Adam Bock did not give Lorraine Taylor a convincing character. Hole one in the script.

When Dart steps out, Mr. Raymond enters. It is here that this reviewer stops with the plot narrative and move on to the actors. Gilb completely convinced me. Her one-sided conversations have been heard in almost any office anywhere.

The interplay between her and Glover was equally convincing . . . just a very normal office. Morris plays a quite loveable chap. Well, at least until we get to know Mr. Raymond. Cox, too, plays a seemingly charming guy . . . but he is from home office. Every home office expects their branches to be very efficient and productive with no slip-ups.

As we expect at Cygnet, the Sound Designer George Ye and Lighting Designer Eric Lotze created their usual excellence. Set Designer Sean Fanning created an elegant area for this production.

Admittedly Bock’s script is not airtight. However, it was loved by New York critics. I suspended logic, went with the occasionally Swiss cheese riddled script. I enjoyed the build, the two faces of each character. I even enjoyed the ending. It is an 80-minute ride on friendly streets and dark mysterious country lanes. The build to the very end has a strange off-beat logic. Still the darkness at the end will ensure conversation all of the way home. Take a ride, if you dare.

The Receptionist, directed by Sean Murray, Wednesday thru Sunday to August 31, 2008. For reservation or information dial 619 337-1525 or www.cygnettheatre.com


Melina Gilb, Jo Anne Glover, Dale Morris, Sean Cox

Technical Staff

Props Bonnie L. Durben, Scenic Design Sean Fanning, Wigs/Hair Design Peter Herman, Lighting Design Eric Lotze, Costume Design Jeanne Reith, Sound Design George Ye, SM Rosalee Barrientos, AD Soroya Rowley

Genre: Dark comedy

Author: Adam Bock

Director: Sean Murray

Date Reviewed August 3, 2008

Dates: Thursday to Sunday & selected Wednesdays, thru August 31, 2008

Running Time: 80 minutes with no intermission

The Receptionist

Cygnet Theatre

6663 El Cajon Blvd, Suite N

San Diego, CA

Box Office Phone: 619 337-1525 Ext 3