Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Grey Matter
The Marsh
Review by Eddie Reynolds | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's review of Dancing at Lughnasa and Richard's reviews of The Last Five Years, The Diplomats, and Red Velvet


Julie Katz
Photo by Serena Morelli
Like a melding of a daily comic strip come to life and of snippets of a TV sitcom, a parade of caricatured, corporate types pass before us as they go about their daily lives at The Company. Led by "the new guy who will change things" to carry out the highly unique mission to "make our aspect of the industry better," The Company is a tongue-in-cheek dishing of any one of Silicon Valley's finest (think Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.). As is usually the case of anything seen at San Francisco's The Marsh, the menagerie of quirky personalities are all conceived and played by the same person—in the case of Grey Matter, by the highly creative and comic Julie Katz. With voices, faces, stances, and mannerisms matched to individualize each cartoonish character, Ms. Katz never misses a beat in her sixty minutes on stage to solicit many laughs as well as "yeah, I've seen that before" nods of acknowledgement as she hits target after target in her poking, pointed parody.

With a smile that resembles one of the pinned-on ones of Mrs. Potato Head, the buoyant, bouncy admin makes a series of departmental announcements like, "Bagel Mondays have been moved to Bagel Tuesdays but will still be called Bagel Mondays because I've already ordered the t-shirts." She will return a number of times to provide the latest updates, including which floor is currently winning the war on who gets the "artisanal hot chocolate dispenser" in their conference room.

The IT Help Desk pro pumps iron while telling, between huffs, each caller, "Just re-start your computer ... (pause and pump) ... Glad that fixed it." Sarah, at the Payroll Help Desk, keeps pleading with the lady on the other line just to "read me the 37-digit number below the 16-digit number" to the point that she starts hyper-ventilating in desperation, crawls under her desk, and shares in ever-so-loud whispers the universal password that no one else is to know (a last-ditch tactic we will discover she uses a lot).

We also meet a laid-back, slow-talking lawyer (with curiously bent-knee stance and a look of the weed in her eyes), a silent sort in backward baseball cap creating a flow chart that would make Dilbert proud, and an ego-inflated applicant who relates her great accomplishments as "leader, chieftain, and commander" on a project "ten years ago at the age of thirteen."

Life in The Company starts getting a bit dicier as budget cuts are causing Sales to move their off-site from Palm Springs to Vacaville and for the company celebration planned for Friday at 4 p.m. to be moved to Monday at 7 a.m. (ending of course in time for work at 8). Rumors of "the event" to aid "workforce right-sizing" (or is it "workforce realignment"?) begin proliferating among and affecting our now-friends; and Julie Katz keeps us in stitches with some scenes that probably hit too close to home for some seated before her.

While some of the telling gets a bit repetitious in nature and a couple of side stories go on a tad long (like a trip to an art gallery by the lawyer and a subsequent story by an equally spaced-out artist she meets), overall Ms. Katz has written (with input from David Ford) and now performs a tight, funny sequence of corporate events and situations that have face validity for anyone who has lived in a rah-rah, fast-paced, this-is-your-only-life company in the Valley of Silicon.

Directed by Lexi Diamond, with lighting and sound help by Meghan Souther, and a simple set of just enough props to set the scene by Anna McGahey, Grey Matter and Julie Katz are a nice reprieve for anyone's otherwise busy and/or boring work week.

Grey Matter continues through June 4, 2016, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. at The Marsh, San Francisco, 1062 Valencia Street. Tickets are available at themarsh.org or by calling 415-282-3055 Monday - Friday, 1 - 4 p.m.


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