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Killing the Boss

Catherine Filloux' laborious dark comedy contains very few laughs and some rather leaden dialogue.

By New York City
Orville Mendoza and Sue Cremin in Killing the Boss
(© Martin Snyder)
Orville Mendoza and Sue Cremin in Killing the Boss
(© Martin Snyder)
In an unnamed Southeast Asian country, a white, liberal, female teacher tries to topple a corrupt regime by shooting its prime minister. If Catherine Filloux' Killing the Boss was a farce, this dubious premise might be more palatable. However, the laborious dark comedy currently on view at the Cherry Lane Theatre has very few laughs and some rather leaden dialogue.

As the play begins, Eve (Sue Cremin) is trying to cajole her driver and playwriting student, Sal (Alexis Camins), into taking her someplace where she can buy a gun. Eve takes the weapon with her when she confronts "The Boss" (Orville Mendoza), a petty tyrant who won't even release the funds needed to pay the salaries of the teachers at the school where Eve works. What actually occurs during their encounter isn't revealed until later in the play. But it soon has Eve's husband Doug (John Daggett) and her parents Pierre (Edward Hajj) and Monique (Dale Soules) meeting with a U.S. ambassador (Mercedes Herrero) to try to find out what's become of the missing Eve.

None of the characters are developed very fully. In order to flesh out Eve's relationships with her loved ones, the playwright includes imagined conversations that they have with Eve in which they try to get her to explain her actions. These scenes are heavy-handed and awkward, but no more so than the rest of the play. Killing the Boss is also riddled with clichéd dialogue such as this line that Eve shouts at her mother, "You taught me how to play with fire. And now I am the one who's gotten burned." And there seems to be a major plot hole regarding the outrage and sense of entitlement that Eve's family expresses, which doesn't seem to take into account the fact that Eve intended to assassinate the head of a foreign government.

The flow of director Jean Randich's production is choppy, particularly in regards to the imaginary conversations with Eve. The majority of the actors give exaggerated, superficial treatments to their admittedly shallow characters. Daggett is probably the worst offender in this regard, resorting to screaming his character's lines with very few shades. Mendoza does find a few comic moments in his portrayal of the karaoke-loving tyrant, but isn't able to effectively convey the darker aspects of the prime minister.

There was one exciting moment at the performance I attended, albeit an unintended one. As Daggett energetically twirled a cane, he accidentally let go sending the object hurtling into an audience member in the front row. Thankfully, there seemed to be no injuries, but it was the only time during the production in which I was moved to care about the people involved.


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