Jess McLeod directs the Chicago premiere of Do You Feel Anger?, Mara Nelson-Greenberg's trenchant 2018 satire of office and gender politics. Empathy coach Sofia (Emjoy Gavino) walks into a hornet's nest of toxic misunderstanding and abuse when she's hired to help a debt collection company get their act together. From the cheerful yet traumatized Eva (Sadieh Rifai) to the friendly but clueless boss, Jon (Lawrence Grimm), and alternately horrifying duo of Jordan (Bernard Gilbert) and Howie (Levi Holloway), Sofia's got a whale of a job on her hands.
It is an environment in which basic communication has broken down on a word-to-word level. Men, women, insiders, and outsiders all have their own languages and can barely understand one another across their differences. It grinds the bubbly Sofia down to the point that by the end she has taken on the devolved argot of the horrific workplace she'd been tasked to fix. But the more we learn of her own backstory, the more evident it becomes that Sofia may not have been the ideal choice to remedy what seem like intractable problems.
From the ugly geometric set (designed by Jeff Kmiec) to Mike Durst's cold fluorescent lighting to the pitch-perfect portrayals of an unbalanced set of people, this is a scary-accurate take on our current situation. Paul Dillon as the Old Man nearly steals the show in his cameo, but it's Nelson-Greenberg's funny/horrible words which are the clear stars. She makes us empathize with this flawed bunch in a way Sofia could only dream of. v