LIFESTYLE - CULTURE

Corporate culture gets absurd treatment



“Big Boys” is an absurd, laugh-out-loud comedy being performed by Actors Rep in Arendt and Medernach’s auditorium over the coming days Maison Moderne

“Big Boys” is an absurd, laugh-out-loud comedy being performed by Actors Rep in Arendt and Medernach’s auditorium over the coming days Maison Moderne

If you’re looking for dark motivational quotes, you cannot go wrong with Victor, the antagonist in Rich Orloff’s “Big Boys”, now playing in Luxembourg. But if new recruit Norman’s experiences are anything to go by, you would not want this hard-nosed business man for a boss.

That’s the premise of this absurd, laugh-out-loud comedy being performed by Actors Rep in Arendt and Medernach’s auditorium over the coming days.

Despite being penned in the late ‘90s, Orloff’s sharp and hilarious script has aged exceedingly well and, perhaps given the wave of comedies about bosses abusing their power (“Wolf of Wall Street”, “House of Cards”), one could say it's a genre in itself.

Director Christine Probst gives any outdated elements of the script a lift, introducing a smart phone here, an email there and a few familiar faces in a PowerPoint presentation (I won’t ruin the surprise). The boldest part of Probst’s interpretation is without doubt the staging. It may have felt a little unsettling at first to watch the action unfold the fully-lit auditorium of law firm Arendt and Medernach in Kirchberg, but I cannot help but feel the corporate edge only served to enhance our enjoyment. At times you even felt you might be eavesdropping a real office meeting.

The minimalist props and set, designed by Jill Kibbey, consisted of a large desk and two chairs and were enough to provide a framework without deflecting from the energetic action and absurd exchange onstage from Erik Abbott’s pony-tailed, power-tripping boss, Victor, and the fast-learning but hierarchically-challenged Norman played by Maximillien Jadin.

Photo: Delano. To sustain the 150-minute minute, two-act play with interval, the pair tapped huge energy reserves for their delivery and physical gaffes and showed a strong dynamic together

Abbott’s timing and delivery of Orloff’s script is perfect, spewing motivational guff like “When I want integrity, I will hire a press relations person”. Make no bones about it, Abbott portrays a deeply unlikeable clown of a boss, who laps up insults as though they were compliments and dishes them out like marketing merchandise. His attempts to manipulate the new recruit through absurdism, misdirection, faux concern and then mentoring, are reminiscent of at least one current world leader.

Jadin portrays the rise of new recruit Norman from grovelling nobody to artful manipulator with aplomb. To sustain the 150-minute, two-act play with interval, the pair tapped huge energy reserves for their delivery and physical gaffes and showed a strong dynamic together.

The result of the exclusive sneak peek given for Arendt & Medernach staff on Wednesday was a thoroughly entertaining evening, which had both myself and many of the audience laughing out loud. Absurd, it may be, but I imagine some audience members will also be a little disturbed to spot some traits among the characters that are not so far from reality.

Where to see it

“Big Boys” is performed in English at Arendt & Medernach on Avenue JF Kennedy, Luxembourg-Kirchberg, on 17 and 18 November at 8pm and then on 19 November at 3pm. For tickets, visit actorsrep.lu/bigboys/