Review "Dead Letter Office": Hand Delivered Special Delivery

Dog & Pony Theatre Company presents

Dead letter stamp.jpg

At DCA Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph
Written by Philip Dawkins
Conceived by Ben Viccellio
Directed by Dieterich Gray
Thru July 18th
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Running Time:  Two hours includes a ten minute intermission

By Katy Walsh

For 44 cents, I expect a lot.  I want bill payments to arrive before the due date.  I want a Christmas card to fulfill my holiday obligation.  I want a thank you note to express genuine gratitude that I may or may not feel.  It's an investment in a connection.  For my time, I expect a lot.  I want a show to entertain.  I want to be engaged in the story.  I want to get sucked into someone else's world.  For my friendship, I  expect a lot.  I want reciprocity in support of pursuing dreams.  I want him to make me laugh on a regular basis.  I want him to follow-up a mean text with a kind text without prompting.  Not only am I on the Board of Directors of the Dog & Pony Theatre Company, I'm good friends with one of the actors in the show.  I have a significant investment in DEAD LETTER OFFICE.   For my money, time and friendship, I expect a lot.


'Going postal' is slang derived from workplace shootings by postal workers.  Who are these mail carriers who hate their lives and each other enough to kill?  Dog & Pony Theatre Company, in conjunction with DCA Theatre, presents the world premiere of DEAD LETTER OFFICE being performed at the Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph.  Conceived by Ben Viccellio and written by Philip Dawkins, DEAD LETTER OFFICE provides some answers to the mystery makings of a postal employee.  Four coworkers are stuck!  In the place where undeliverable items go to die, they can't get a connection with a cell phone, family member or each other.   There is a lot of moaning coming from the pipes, complaints and sex happening in the bowels of the post office.  Dawkins has written an engaging deconstruction of four people with nothing in common but an employer.   Just like the post office, DEAD LETTER OFFICE starts slow but eventually delivers with comedy, intrigue and unexpected twists. 

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In the first few scenes, the repetitive ritual to illustrate mundane becomes mundane.   Act one is sluggish with sporadic moments of hilarity.  Bringing the humor, Joshua Volkers (Rolo) plays the philandering manager with delicious arrogance.  He is bodacious in nailing the role and a subordinate. Certified male, he looks hot in his boxers.  As with all the characters, Dawkins has given depth to each back story in the second act.  Volkers still gets the laughs and sympathy showing a vulnerable, romantic side.  Susan Price (Agatha) has the funniest memorable lines about Soduko, carrot sticks, and strippers.  'It's worse than trashy.  It's French.'  Price is perfect as the nosy, annoying, holiday sweater-wearing co-worker.  Act two gives John Fenner Mays (Christian) and Kristen Magee (Je'T Aime) an opportunity to connect with each other and the audience.  In an intense exchange, Mays and Magee unleash an emotional fury.   Mays loses his self containment with a primal reaction.  Magee goes from detached to hysterical to defenseless.  Under the direction of Dieterich Gray, the cast pushes the envelope for a special delivery of drama sealed with comedy.

Dog & Pony has established a reputation for cutting-edge, innovative theatre.  With a forte for theatrical productions leaning heavily on devised spectacle, D&P doesn't disappoint on the visual aspect of DEAD LETTER OFFICE.  Scenic Designer William Anderson provides the decaying basement with exposed pipes, water damage and blinking fluorescent lights.  Prop Designer Katie Rook has emptied her basement, and all her friends, to create a hoarder's paradise.  Aided with lights (Aaron Weissman), sound (Stephen Ptacek) and costumes (Catherine Tantillo), the unattractive post office conditions could make anyone snap.  Write a letter to Santa.  Misaddress a box of porn.  Forget to use a stamp.  Do whatever it takes but get to DEAD LETTER OFFICE.

A Francophile and not at all trashy, Jen describes the show with, 'solid performances and unexpected turns made for an enjoyable ride.'

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