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Falcon Theatre comedy spoofs modern big business

The Grönholm Method runs through September 30.

September 16, 2012|By Lynne Heffley
  • 'Frank'(Jonathan Cake),'Rick' (Stephen Spinella),'Melanie' (Lesli Margherita) and 'Carl' (Graham Hamilton) in The Gronholm Method at the Falcon Theatre.
'Frank'(Jonathan Cake),'Rick'… (Photo by Chelsea…)

If you’ve ever been put off by a job interview that was intimidating, demeaning or just plain strange, be thankful you weren’t among the candidates for a job at Burnham & Burnham, the fictional Fortune 500 company in “The Grönholm Method,” Catalan playwright Jordi Galcerán Ferrar’s expectation-defying comedy at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.

An American premiere, with translation by playwrights Anne Garcia-Romero and Mark St. Germain, this fierce satire of today’s brand of corporate whip-cracking begins with a simple premise: In the tastefully monochromatic conference room of Burnham & Burnham’s Wall Street headquarters, three men and one woman are awaiting their fourth interview for a high-level executive job.

Or are they?

From the time that a cabinet bin opens automatically to reveal an envelope containing the group’s first challenge — within a 10-minute time limit, the four must decide which one of them is actually a member of the company’s human resources department — it is apparent that nothing is going to be quite what it seems.

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To answer the first challenge, the candidates begin a soon-contentious attempt to elicit information from each other. Frank and Rick are strangers to each other and to Carl and Melanie, who were college classmates and maybe something more, but shifting arguments and applied logic makes temporary allies of first one grouping, then another. Aggressive Frank (Jonathan Cake), a dapper “Madmen” type, eventually agrees with preppy Carl (Graham Hamilton) and attractive, no-nonsense Melanie (Lesli Margherita) that fussy, nerdy Rick (Stephen Spinella) has to be the HR plant.

Time has just about run out when that supposition (one that much of the audience likely shares at this point) is turned on its head.

The cabinet opens again. This envelope is addressed to Rick, who is visibly upset and who at first refuses to share what the card inside says. When he does, it seems to be an opportunity for the rest to reduce the competition by one. But again, “seems” is the operative word.

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