We meet four applicants for a high-paying executive role sitting in a sterile office lobby of a Fortune 500 company, prior to a group interview for which they couldn't possibly be prepared. The applicants include Frank (Jonathan Cake), a snarky shark who has empathy for no one, Rick (Stephen Spinella), a geeky, chatty fellow who can't seem to stop fidgeting, Melanie (Lesli Margherita) a pulled-too-tight rubber band who looks like she could snap at any moment, and Carl (Graham Hamilton), a boy-next-door type who seems out of his depth.
Ferrer creates a definitively European tone, with Buñuelian surrealism permeating much of the work (translated by Anne Garcia-Romero and Mark St. Germain). The dialogue is heightened, the situations are irrational and everything is almost nightmarish. The company, itself, is even an unseen force, making itself known by opening doors, glowing lights and malevolent instructions.
The performances, while sometimes seeming stilted and bombastic, prove to be spot-on in the full context of the play. Spinella is delightful as the nerdy, people-pleasing Rick. In his bland brown suit, he's all energy -- but the sort that exhausts people instead of endearing himself to them.
Cake, with his James Bond looks and suave composure, is perfectly cast as the aggressive but ultimately empty Frank. Filled with venom for humanity, spitting vicious comments at everyone else's views, his beauty fades with every word that spews from his lips.
Margherita shows a gift for revealing Melanie's fragility even when her character is at its coarsest. Hamilton has the most challenging task, and it's obvious that he's always thinking and trying to get into his character's head.
Director BT McNicholl often takes the audience to the sharp edge of a cliff, but every decision has been carefully planned. In the end, The Grönholm Method will leave the audience laughing -- as well as astounded by their own cutthroat nature.
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