Fired Up in "Fat Cat Killers"

By J. Cooper Robb
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 9, 2011

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Men at work: Sean Lally (left) and Robert DaPonte come up with a half-baked plan in Fat Cat Killers.

Flashpoint Theatre Company kicks off its season with Adam Szymkowicz’s timely but consistently unfunny satire Fat Cat Killers.

The 90-minute play focuses on two 20-something guys, Steve (the reliable Robert DaPonte) and Michael (the promising young actor Sean Lally), who work at a nameless and soulless corporation in present-day America. Their jobs are mindless and dreary, and Steve admits that most of his time is spent on useless activities. The two are soon laid off, victims of corporate downsizing. Seeking revenge, our heroes hatch a half-baked scheme to kidnap the company’s CEO Dave (an appropriately confident and charismatic Damon Bonetti), who makes millions while the company flounders and sheds lower-level employees.

Given the current Occupy encampment in front of City Hall, the play’s subject matter about corporate greed and the inequitable distribution of wealth in America is undoubtedly timely. Unfortunately, timeliness is about the only thing Szymkowicz’s play has going for it.

Structured as a series of short episodes, the story is so choppy and fragmented that Director Noah Herman’s production struggles to gain any momentum. More importantly, though, it intends to be comical; but Killers is about as amusing as a pink slip and a foreclosure notice. Herman exploits the rhythms in Szymkowicz’s language to good effect, but the plot is more stupid than absurd and the characters display such broad stereotypes that the actors have little to work with.

Still, the production does manage a few good moments, mostly in its latter stages. Alone with their hostage, Steve explains to the bound and gagged Dave how he plans to proceed. “If I hit you and I don’t like it, I’ll stop. If I hit you and it makes me feel better, I’ll do it some more.” Daponte delivers the warning with just the right mix of courtesy and menace and with the help of noted fight choreographer Michael Cosenza, it is one of the few times that any of the characters feels like a real person.

Such moments of authenticity are rare in this clunky, cartoonish play. We want to empathize with Steve and Michael, but chronic unemployment and corporate greed are too much of a harsh reality to be funny.

Through Nov. 19. $5-$20. Second Stage at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. 215.665.9720.

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