Christmas Eve. Three co-workers. The office of Homeland Security. Thus unravels the story of Shelter in Place, a light-hearted one act where three unsuspecting office mates find themselves trapped in their building during a shelter in place lockdown, instantly transforming their casual banter into confrontation as the day progresses.
The premise of Shelter in Place, smattered with DC puns and references, playfully showcases the intersection between politics in the work culture and the political climate of the District. References to the Metro system, Hillary Clinton, and the outstanding rivalry between DC residents and Virginians are tossed out consistently, some landing with the audience and others seeming unnecessarily pushed upon us.
In addition, the characters – dry and sly Jo, flamboyant Tyler, and authoritative Todd – often spout dialogue that’s almost too efficient to feel natural or fuel the action of the play.
The actors portrayed their distinct characters well and achieve some fun and whimsical dynamics within their interaction – particularly Jose Reyes Teneza’s Tyler that remained slightly over the top throughout, but memorable and consistently comedic.
The direction seemed wonky at times, with many moments where the actors amateurishly turned out to the audience without clear focus or intent and addressed their thoughts to us mid-conversation. It didn’t seem to fit their characters and played out like a staging 101 session, causing me to be more distracted by the movement of the actors as opposed to concentrating on the movement of the play itself.
Overall, Dan Synder Jr.’s construction of this one act is pretty solid in its structure, with each moment flowing into the other towards a nice unexpected climax and an ending that leaves a clever dose of uncertainty with the audience. It’s more traditional than groundbreaking, and that seems to be the right fit for it.
With time and development, Shelter in Place could reach its true fun potential, leaving us with an eagerness to expect the unexpected and watch the chaos of office life ensue in a delightful way.
Shelter in Place has 2 more performances at The Bedroom – Fort Fringe, 610 L Street NW, Washington, DC.
Amrita rates this 3 out of 5
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