The Receptionist: Who will eat the birthday cake now?

Sally Wingert and Sara Marsh.
Sally Wingert and Sara Marsh.
Photo by Melissa Hesse

If you've spent any time working in an office, you've met Beverly Wilkins, the character Sally Wingert plays in The Receptionist, Dark & Stormy's latest production.

Cheerful to a fault. So efficient in her job that plenty of time can be spent gossiping and chatting with other employees and visitors. Organizing birthday cakes and cards for her coworkers. The absolute engine of the office.

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And hiding the pain at every turn.

Talking too much about the plot here gives away the game in Adam Bock's rich, dark comedy. Wingert is the titular character in a business only identified as the Northeast Office. What they do is shrouded for much of the show, slowly revealed through a visitor from "Central Office," played by Bill McCallum.

He's just as polite as Beverly, but the edge in his character rides a lot closer to the surface. That edge can be felt in the other two characters: Sara Marsh's Lorraine, who outwardly acts like your everyday bored office employee; and Harry Waters Jr.'s Edward, the man in charge of the office, who has made a mistake in their business that may cascade to affect all of the characters.

The menace gets ramped up through the show, moving this from what seems like an everyday workplace character study into something more fitting of Harold Pinter. 

Each of the actors puts in a terrific performance, led by Wingert's captivating Beverly, who lets us see how the character's routine facade, from the friendly but precise tone on the phone to the way she obsessed about her pens, is just a way to hide from what goes on behind the scenes at work.

Director Benjamin McGovern hones the action to a fine point, while the found location (an actual office, complete with massive receptionist desk and an up-to-date calendar) and tight confines only add to the humor, and unease.


The Receptionist
Through Jan. 4
Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art
250 3rd Ave. N, suite 500, Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.724.5685 or visit online.
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Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art

250 3rd Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401


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