Edinburgh Festival Fringe: It would be fine thing if there were no longer any need to satirise the kind of out-of-control corporate culture that is the subject of this latest play by the brilliant New York writer Brian Parks.
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)
Yet almost ten years on from the great financial crash of 2008, it is still with us, and now seems to have taken control of the US presidency; which makes Parks’s fast-talking satire on a system fraying at the edges, yet still convinced it can rule the world, all the more timely, hilarious and frightening.
So in a corporate high-rise somewhere in Manhattan, four of those men in suits observe that their company is in trouble; there’s the rugged older guy who’s seen it all, the quiet accountant type, the one with artistic yearnings, and the rookie.
Borne along on a river of quick-fire corporate banter laced with macho nonsense, they go upstairs to the chairman’s floor to present a rescue plan; only to be received with such withering scorn that they all return not only with sweaty palms but with damp patches on the front of their trousers. “The smell is unpleasant,” pipes one. “No it isn’t,” replies the older man, Landry. “This is what great companies smell like.”
The four go on to divide into two competing pairs, each searching through a dark night of the soul – and a literal night in the office – for the holy grail of a scheme to save the corporation.
And of course, it all ends badly, as their grubby suits and worn-out values bring them to the brink of destruction. But not before Parks, his director David Calvitto, and a brilliant four-man cast have delivered a richly damning verdict on a system that catastrophically fails to understand the complex weave of human nature – a verdict as poetic as it is energetic, and full of lacerating wit.
Until 28 August. Today 1:35pm.