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The Water Coolers

November 20, 2010
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Created by: Thomas Michael Allen and Sally Allen

Cast: Peter Brown, Michael Andrew Daly, Amanda Ryan Paige, Rob Marnell, Brooke Wilson

Piano/Musical Director: Cody Stine

We walked into the theatre not knowing what the plot was about, except that it had something to do with the office. And there wasn’t really a plot, but rather, it was a musical revue of life in the office. It was broken up into many segments, mostly exposition of characters in the workplace. Props were quite simple – 3 chairs, 1 desk and a piano. Yes! it was live music from the piano. We saw a good crowd, almost full house, on the opening night.

It was hilarious, even though I probably missed some jokes due to my lack of understanding of some American slangs. I think most of us could relate to the various scenarios and personally, probably know of the characters depicted.
The show started off with the “turn off the phone” reminder, which had 1 player on the phone in the front row as another (on stage) told him to turn it off. Soon, he was on stage and they started the musical revue, followed with the opening number called (surprise!) “The Opening Number”. 🙂 Going into the main programme, it was “Paranoia”, singing “Paranoia! Paranoia!” to the chorus of Handel’s “Hallelujah” from Messiah, where colleagues got paranoid when they faced the insecurity of being “left out” or “dispensable”.

There was also the woes of “The Hottie” in the office, “The Great Pretender” (those that pretend to be very busy but not actually doing much work…sung to the tune of the song of the same name), the irritating “devil’s advocate” (i.e. the saboteur who refuses to accept others’ ideas), etc. They even had a segment on the transformation of work life when “The Palm” was introduced in 1996 (i.e. love addiction to the gadget), which has now evolved to become more a “con” with blackberrys, where we’re too connected (asks for immediate response to work stuff).

I think I liked the parts “P.C.” (politically correct – with reference to dealing with relationships with colleagues of the opposite sex) and the “Helpline”. I thought it was quite ingenious with the former, when they did the evolution-of-man pose when they sang the part on “Evolution of Man”. In the latter, it depicts some people’s fear of calling the helpline because they are afraid of appearing stupid. There was one part where the guy voiced his fears – “they laugh at you!” and a colleague responded with something like “you mean you heard them laughing?”, and he replied “that’s why they put you on hold!”. The “IT cowboy” was quite amusing who becomes like the “saviour”. He explains the problem with a load of technical jargon and the solution to the problem? Restart the computer. Ha!

There’s also an interactive segment with (can you guess?) the cheesy team building exercise that we all learnt to hate in corporate life. 2 of the audience were picked to go on stage to play games and “forfeit”…just like any team building exercise. My friend and I were just talking about how crappy team building exercise can be earlier today! So I was extra amused. Ha! Good thing I wasn’t sitting in front.

There were just too many segments that I can’t recount them all. However, it ended quite sweetly and appropriately, reminding us that despite all the work dilemmas and frustrations, the bottomline of why we work is providing for our loved ones.

My breakdown probably doesn’t make it appear funny, but you can’t describe humour. You need to catch it for yourself.

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