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Review: Current Economic Conditions

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Lily (Maria Souza-Eglen) brings home a boy (John Goodson) to her room in her parents' house in 'Current Economic Conditions' at the Phoenix Theatre. - ZACH ROSING
  • Zach Rosing
  • Lily (Maria Souza-Eglen) brings home a boy (John Goodson) to her room in her parents' house in 'Current Economic Conditions' at the Phoenix Theatre.

In his program notes, Bryan Fonseca alludes to how the screwball comedies of the 1930’s helped audiences get through the Great Depression. There’s a similar impulse at work in his production of Current Economic Conditions — the desire to find a humanizing humor in an otherwise grim situation: the lack of meaningful career opportunities for American college graduates.

Lily Booker (Maria Souza-Eglen) holds a degree in anthropology and has just been laid-off from her menial job with a New York publishing firm. Broke, she is forced to move in with her parents (Charles Goad and Jen Alexander) until she can put her life back together. But in today’s job market, this is going to be difficult.

Misadventures ensue as Lily finds herself learning more about her parents than she’d like, dealing with dead-end job interviews and trying to have a love-life when neither she nor her boyfriend (John Goodson) have jobs or a place of their own.

Writer Don Zolidis sets up the action through a series of vignettes that play like sketch comic blackouts. The talented cast is adept at making the most of these situations; there are plenty of laughs, especially in the play’s farcical second act.

But Zolidis fails to make Lily a strong enough character to provide a real rooting interest. Unlike so many young adults in her situation, she’s a self-absorbed ditz who actually does appear to be unemployable.

Souza-Eglen’s nuanced energy manages to make this rather pathetic waif a reasonably sympathetic character. And Charles Goad turns in one of the best caricatures of henpecked fatherhood since Paul Lynde’s turn in Bye, Bye Birdie.

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