The Desk Set

Has your job come to define your sense of self? Such is the problem for the trio of characters in Adam Bock’s quirky comedy, The Typographer’s Dream. Margaret, the typographer, sits at her desk, sandwiched between the desks of Annalise the geographer and Dave the court reporter. No, this is not an office of rhyming employment, but a theatrical occasion for the three friends to regale us with the minutiae of their fields. If their earnestness often seems over-the-top, it’s perhaps out of a desire to feel that their professional choices haven’t been in vain. Personally, they don’t have much to compensate them. Annalise, a Canadian and a drinker, is hypercritical of her American surroundings; Dave unconsciously resists using the pronoun “I” and lies incessantly; Margaret daydreams about crashing her car in such a way as to disable the air bag. Perhaps these middle-class (yet richly neurotic) workaholics should consider an outside hobby?

Bock’s idea seems indebted partly to Beckett’s monologue plays, partly to Melissa James Gibson’s [sic], and partly to more banal situation comedies. If the work doesn’t ultimately fuse together, it maintains an oddball cleverness that is immeasurably helped by the talent of director Drew Barr’s cast. Dressed like a wacky librarian, Meg MacCary reveals the frustrated creativity roiling inside Margaret’s daily fussing with the alphabet. From her anti-American wisecracks to her habit of putting everyone in their place, Kate Hampton humorously exposes the sneaky aggression of Annalise’s geographical preoccupation. Dan Snook locates the pathos at the heart of Dave’s yolkless egg of a personality. While Margaret longs most poignantly for a career change, her fellow drones share the typographer’s dream of discovering themselves anew in the space between letters on the workaday page. —Charles McNulty

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