Opened Sept. 22, 1993; reviewed Oct. 1; runs through Oct. 31.
Big John … Ji-Tu Cumbuka
Curtis … Wesley Thompson
Josh … Stephen Caffrey
Alex … Kim Robillard
Linda … Lisa Jane Persky
Thomas … Philip Brock
Joseph … Jeff Joseph
Margot … Jessica Hecht
Set in the offices of a Long Island warehouse, “The Cost of Doing Business” attempts liberal commentary on the long-standing issues of work conditions, class, sexism, racism and even feminism. It does not succeed because its take is cliched and dated.
The conflict involves the imminent closure of the business due to the enormous cocaine habit of the manager (Stephen Caffrey). This will put two warehouse workers (Ji-Tu Cumbuka and Wesley Thompson), one salesman (Kim Robillard) and a receptionist (Lisa Jane Persky) out of work.
The two warehouse workers, one physically challenged, are enraged, not only at the prospect of unemployment but by the attitude of the yuppie executive (Philip Brock) sent to close the place down. Adding to the mix a sophisticated accountant sent to check the books doesn’t help any.
The dialogue is full of stereotypes and scattered emotions. The characters, including a stripper with a feminist bent (Jessica Hecht), offer no new insight.
Although there are some notable turns by the seven-member cast, including an irreverent and well-timed performance by Thompson, first-time playwright and television producer Mark Haskell Smith has remained in the ’70s and early ’80s on this one.