Labor of Loathe | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Labor of Loathe

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LABOR OF LOATHE, Altered Spoons Productions, at O Bar & Cafe. Finding a niche in the job market can be tough, which is why the vast majority of recent college grads are either unhappily employed, unemployed, or underemployed. It's a sad fact: a degree doesn't get you very far these days. Some are lucky enough to hustle a job in a field that interests them; others opt for graduate school. The rest resign themselves to pushing papers or flipping burgers while their backstabbing coworkers and stuffed-shirt bosses humiliate them.

It's an inescapable part of the postcollegiate experience. And that's the problem with Labor of Loathe, a collection of comic sketches and monologues familiar to the point of being boring: it offers nothing new on the subject of work. Though writer-director Marisa Cohen manages to create a few moments of extreme clarity, she usually clings to shopworn comic scenarios--the job interview from hell, the get-rich infomercial.

Even the lamest bits here are watchable, however, thanks to the cast's loose, playful performances. And when Cohen allows herself to tinker with scene structure and pacing (in one scene, a self-loathing clown takes an entire AA meeting hostage), the results are encouraging. Ultimately, though, Labor of Loathe is hampered by its lack of both focus and scope; Cohen's generic, Dilbert-style office humor simply isn't enough to sustain interest over an hour and a half.

--Nick Green

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