Jason Alexander directs the East Coast Premiere of Windfall, an absurd farce, at Bay Street Theater
By: Patrick Christiano
June 7, 2022: After a three-year hiatus due to COVID, Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor is back with a bang. They launched their 2022 Mainstage Summer Season with the East coast premiere of Windfall, an outrageous farce with a distinctly dark edge, by Scooter Pietsch. Directed by television icon Jason Alexander, who created the role of George Costanza on television’s Seinfeld, the absurd comedy is about the fallout that ensues when five office workers risk their life savings to win a $500 million dollar lottery.
Set in Columbus, Ohio, in an ordinary data entry office called Brannon Data, four flawed employees have bonded in their mutual disdain for their tyrannical boss, Glenn Brannon, played to perfection by Spencer Garrett. Brannon is a bully, an absolute nightmare, a cruel, self -consumed, overbearing boss, who behaves like a lunatic without a shred of decency. He is a manipulative sociopath with a mission, to inspire these losers to work harder and stop whining.
The plot thickens, early, once Bannon hires a new employee, Jacqueline Vanderbilt (Talia Thiesfield), a designer clad ace, who he leads the others to believe is there to replace one of them. At first, the others go after Jacqueline mercilessly, especially Hannah (Abigail Isom), a neurotic mess, who believes her own head is on the chopping block. That is until they learn that Jacqueline is not what she appears to be. Then when Galvan (Ro Boddie), a man of deep faith, has a vision of them all, including Jacqueline, winning the $500 million dollars, he persuades them to risk their life savings for the chance to be free of Bannon. Galvan had a previous vision that came true, and he believes, with all his heart, there is no way they could lose. This is their chance for freedom.
Once their scheme is put into place, in the second act, the action rapidly descends into unpredictable bedlam, boarding on farce, with everyone behaving shamefully. Without sacrificing any of the pot details, let me say it is a bloody goodtime with extreme language and extreme behavior.
Under Jason Alexander’s shrewd guidance, the superb ensemble is hilarious. They put the pedal to the medal by pulling out all the stops with a fierce commitment to the truths of the outrageous situation. The text demands this and the text, also, provides the actors with many moments to shine. There are two especially passionate speeches, which illuminate the characters beautifully, one by the gifted Spencer Garret and the other by the equally talented Ro Boddie that are worth the price of admission.
The other outstanding members of the ensemble are Badia Farha, who plays Kate, the sexy office manager, and Dylan S. Wallach, who plays Chris, the office bad boy, who never grew up. Like the rest of this talented ensemble, they embody the physical humor with great skill and belief. It is a joy to watch all these actors work.
The set design opens-up the rather-ordinary office set to accommodate the physical action and gives the actors several places to deliver impassioned speeches to the audience.
Is there a message in all the pandemonium? If so, Scooter Pietsch might say, we are what we create. We are responsible for our own happiness, but money is not the answer.
Windfall is now playing at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor through June 19, 2022. For tickets or more information go to http://www.baystreet.org/ or call 631-725-9500