‘Contractions’ at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage by David Friscic

The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage has produced a very exciting and provocative new play by Mike Bartlett entitled Contractions The message of this play is that we are often pawns of unfeeling regulations and codes of conduct in the workplace, and that our private autonomy is sacrificed in strict subservience to the all-powerful company/office. This is a very satiric and disturbing (and all too relevant to today) piece, and it is swiftly and effectively directed by Duncan Macmillan.

Holly Twyford. Photo: Scott Suchman.

Holly Twyford. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Delivered in one jolting hour, the play feels like a Swiftian satire where the most seemingly insane solution is proposed for the efficiency of the almighty office. I cannot divulge much at all about the contents of the play or I would have to issue a spoiler alert; suffice it to say that the officious barbs fly fast and furious in this two-character play. If you think that the boss played by Meryl Streep in the film The Devil Wears Prada was a stern authority figure, nothing can prepare you for the audacious character that Metro D.C. veteran stage actress Holly Twyford 
creates. Every movement and inflection of Twyford is pitch-perfect.

As Emma, the vulnerable yet resilient employee, Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan is superb. Keegan never overplays her hand and possesses a very interesting subtle manner of stage movement.

Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan. Photo:by Scott Suchman.

Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan. Photo by Scott Suchman.

The air of anxiety and tension that hovers over each successive scene is effectively accentuated by the juxtaposition of stimulating Sound Design effects by James Bigbee Garver. Luciana Stecconi’s Set Design is a striking example of modern, stark, monochromatic efficiency.

Studio 2ndStage has produced an intellectually challenging and exhilarating hit!

Running Time: One hour with no intermission.

Contractions plays through January 27th, 2013 at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage – 1501 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets call (202) 332-3300, or purchase them online.

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