There’s nothing quite like starting the summer off with a great comedy, especially one that you can’t guess what’s going to happen next and gets better the longer you stick with it! If you are looking for an evening of fun, laughter and even reflection on the human condition, Bargain is the game for you!
After three long years of digital and remote performances, Bay Street (located in Sag Harbor, NY) is back with a full season of wonderful LIVE entertainment! Kicking off the 2022 summer season is a new play directed by comedy legend Jason Alexander (or as many people know him as the iconic George Constanza of Seinfeld) called Bargain. Written by Emmy-nominated composer and playwright Scooter Pietsch, the play follows five miserable employees working at a data entry company in Columbus, Ohio. When one of the employees plans to become a multi-millionaire by playing the lottery, things quickly spiral out of control.
When you first enter the theater, you are greeted by a well-made office decor that fits perfectly into the Bay Street theater space. It’s not your typical regional setting, it’s clear how much passion and love has gone into the setting. Although it’s a fairly standard office, the wide-open nature of the set really allowed the cast to utilize the space and help demonstrate one of the show’s best qualities: physicality.
All of the actors in the show’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime had their moments where they were allowed to perform their own kinds of physical comedy. I’d rather not spoil the ratchet and the dark stuff (yes, but it’s a comedy!) that the characters do to themselves or each other, but each of the actors never failed to be amazing. Throughout the show there is energy, excitement and lots of physical comedy! Jason Alexander’s energy as a performer is felt from start to finish in this production!
Spencer Garett nailed his role as rude but teachable boss Glenn Barron. We all have that person in our lives with a superiority complex that we despise (to put it mildly) and Glenn is that person in the room. Ironically, they sometimes teach us lessons that help us become better people. Glenn, though unlikable, is that character.
Ro Boddie plays Galvan, a longtime employee and man of faith who convinces the group to buy thousands of dollars worth of lottery tickets because of a vision he had. Ro delivered a gripping monologue near the end of the first act that gave his character great depth, setting up the rest of the story in a beautiful (and dark) way.
Talia Thiesfield plays Jacqueline Vanderbilt, a new employee who joins the lottery system. Especially in act two, Talia has great comedic outbursts and physical comedy moments. It would be a mistake not to mention Dylan S. Wallach who ran the show with his physique as broke alcoholic employee Chris; especially because he was constantly hurt and in pain for the duration of Act Two. I really felt a lot of Jason Alexander energy in the character of Chris.
Badia Farha plays Kate, who oversees the daily operations of the office. With witty understudy and an excellent performance, Badia plays her part beautifully and keeps the audience spellbound. Finally, the insecure character of Hannah is played by Abigail Isom. In the first act in particular, Abigail expresses the insecurity of her financial situation with a sluggish job, resulting in a tense, over-the-top performance that really highlights the character’s true colors.
The first act of the play lasts about seventy minutes and can seem a bit long. However, the set-up and development of Act 1 of each of the character stories sets up for a strong and comedic Act 2. Each of the characters are vastly different from each other and have complex personalities that each cast member plays superbly and brings to life, especially as the play always quickly changes its tone. Most of the play is comedy, but the themes of human greed pull you out of the play thinking about the human condition and how money can turn a good group of people into really REALLY bad people ( especially if warned by a horrible boss!) if it could allow them to escape their dreadful work. But things never get too serious in the room, because when they do, Scooter Pietsch uses redirection to keep the room from getting too dark.
There are a few small issues I have with the production. One is the lighting which was used sparingly in the production highlighting only certain dramatic (and hectic!) moments. I feel like this lighting could have been used more freely to make the room more immersive. For example, there are scenes in which the characters have side moments. I think in those moments the lights should have been focused on those monologues or side moments to highlight and add tension to those sides. Also, I sometimes thought the jokes were a little off, especially one joke in act two that talks about an explicit sex act that felt disconnected and a bit forced. Those moments didn’t happen often, but when they did, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy.
Globally, Bargain is an absolute summer delight that makes you leave the theater thinking about human greed… but also laughing. It is also important, and you will certainly find it in Bargain!