×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Gronholm Method

Theaters hoping for another "God of Carnage" will find their grail in "The Gronholm Method."

With:
Frank - Jonathan Cake
Rick - Stephen Spinella
Carl - Graham Hamilton
Melanie - Lesli Margherita

Theaters hoping for another “God of Carnage” – another smart European four-hander Americanized for maximum comic impact – will find their grail in Jordi Galceran Ferrer’s “The Gronholm Method,” an absolutely smashing satire of corporate gamesmanship which (especially these days) hits audiences right where they live: in their livelihood. Although this riveting piece is going to have a long, long life, local auds might as well get in on the ground floor with BT McNicholl’s beautifully staged U.S. premiere at Burbank’s Falcon.

The stakes in the top marketing/PR slot at Fortune 500 mainstay Burnham + Burnham are clear with one look at Brian Webb’s gleamingly elegant waiting room set. Decorated to the nines with everything from the tasteful abstract wall paintings to the expensive bottled water on the glass tabletops, the room exudes a sweet smell of success. (A peek of corporate logo just outside the main door is a marvelous touch.)

Our final four applicants are on the surface stereotypical, but as superbly played by the Falcon quartet they’re recognizable human beings all: the cynical smoothie in the Don Draper mode (Jonathan Cake); the chatty middle-aged family man (Stephen Spinella); and two MBA pals, a young hotshot (Graham Hamilton) and a Type A lady (Lesli Margherita) who knows she has to hustle twice as hard in a man’s world.

For a while, each aspirant assesses the competition in some amusing one-upmanship byplay. But much more is going on than meets the eye, because B+B proves to be one of those “enlightened” firms which push hopefuls to the edge in a series of stunts and psychological hoops to test their mettle.

A side drawer keeps opening, its contents glowing like the “Pulp Fiction” briefcase, with envelopes containing challenges the candidates are to execute successfully or get booted from the boardroom. Or a set of wacky hats the quartet must don, for a hilariously stressful roleplay session.

It would be criminal to say more of what transpires, except to confidently assert that on this winding journey of mind-bending surprises, you’re not likely to hold your breath in a theater with more expectancy this year.

Yet as captivating as the human drama is, we can’t forget the real target, an entrenched system of power operating in secret to play wage earners like marionettes. Like “God of Carnage,” “Gronholm” is in the grand tradition of European playwrighting in which political allegory sits lightly beneath the boulevard comedy surface.

It’s a tribute to Ferrer and McNicholl, as well as to trusty translators Anne Garcia-Romero and Mark St. Germain, that the tension between dramatic situation and theme is so artfully balanced. Whatever the “Method” employed, this is an event to savor.

Popular on Variety

The Gronholm Method

Falcon Theater, Burbank; 130 seats; $42 top

Production: A Falcon Theater presentation of a Baby Tiger Productions, Daniel Wallace and Trish Whitehurst production of a play in one act by Jordi Galceran Ferrer, translation by Anne Garcia-Romero and Mark St. Germain. Directed by BT McNicholl. Sets, Brian Webb; costumes, Ann Closs-Farley; lighting, Jennifer Schriever; sound, Cricket S. Myers; stage manager, Sue Karutz. Opened Aug. 17, 2012. Reviewed Aug. 18. Runs through Sept. 30. Running time: 90 MIN.

Cast: Frank - Jonathan Cake
Rick - Stephen Spinella
Carl - Graham Hamilton
Melanie - Lesli Margherita

More Legit

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content