Now in its world premiere with Philadelphia’s Flashpoint Theatre Company, THE FAT CAT KILLERS is a timely revenge fantasy for our age of economic recession, corporate downsizing, and the worldwide protests inspired by Occupy Wall Street. And its theme couldn’t be more appropriate to the definition of “flashpoint”–the moment at which an eruption into significant action, creation, or violence occurs. That is precisely what happens in playwright Adam Szymkowicz’s new 90-minute, one-act, dark comedy, when two office co-workers are pushed to their limits, and decide to kidnap the CEO of the company that just fired them–or, in the well parodied circumlocution of corporate-speak, “laid them off” (though everyone knows they don’t stand a chance of being rehired).
The provocative big business satire raises some salient issues about the exploitation and expendability of workers, the abysmal discrepancies in wages and benefits between the upper and lower classes of our society, the numbing effects of unfulfilling jobs, and the desperation of employees faced with a sudden loss of income. It also satirizes the unprofessional attitude, poor job performance, and general immaturity of the bungling, beer-swilling pair of nascent criminals, humorously demonstrating that the best decisions are not often made under the influence of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and, sardonically, that revenge is not always so sweet.
Flashpoint’s casting (done collaboratively by casting director Meghann Williams, artistic director Thom Weaver, and director Noah Herman) is spot-on, with three first-rate actors who couldn’t be a more perfect fit for their comedic roles. Damon Bonetti is slick and charismatic as the heartless, manipulative executive, while Robert DaPonte and Sean Lally are respectively indecisive and impetuous as the consistently inept and not-too-bright avengers, for whom upward mobility is just an ill-conceived and short-lived pipedream. As directed by Herman, their performances are very funny, yet disquietingly familiar; they are not too extreme to be nearly believable examples of social Darwinism at its most amusing. Costumes by Katherine Fritz capture the characters’ personalities and positions with insight and wit, as the clueless Steve wears a Bugs Bunny tie to a meeting with management to pitch a raise and promotion, the arrogant Dave looks like he just stepped out of the latest issue of GQ, and the high-strung Michael, by contrast, looks like he just stepped out of a cow’s mouth.
If the current financial fiasco in our country has you down, and you’ve almost reached your flashpoint, go lift your spirits and live out your dreams of retribution vicariously with THE FAT CAT KILLERS.
THE FAT CAT KILLERS
Written by Adam Szymkowicz
Directed by Noah Herman
October 26-November 19, 2011
Flashpoint Theatre Company
Second Stage at the Adrienne
2030 Sansom Street, 2nd floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103