Review: Enterprise (Assembly)
Updated: Jun 10
What makes the average consumer invest in a show? How do we attract the 18-35 market to a performance? What are the projections on a piece of theatre poking fun at cultural norms of the office space? Well, if any of these questions were posed to the workforce of “Enterprise”, it would probably be procrastinated, argued over, forgotten and left to the very last minute. Oh, what fun. This comedy comes from American writer Brian Parks and follows four business people as they try to save their rapidly sinking business, each more incompetent than the last.
Let me elaborate on that; four white, cis, male business people, most of which are over the age of 50 (except a slightly out of place Christoper Carley). While I certainly don’t judge any artist based on their skin, it is a little uncomfortable to watch an ensemble so lacking in diversity crack jokes about genitalia, politically correct terms for minorities, and women (“What’s astrology?” “Astronomy for girls”). In a context so criticised for its bias and lack of diversity, a little self-reflection would have done the performance some good (though their lack of any kind of characterisation may have been an abstract way of poking fun at themselves).
That aside they are all really strong performers. The dialogue is extremely snappy, which has obviously taken extensive rehearsal to achieve, and the work has really paid off and they never miss a beat or show any signs of slowing or losing track. However, this is one of the rare occasions where the work they have done works against the performance. The whole show oozes confidence, but the over rehearsal required to achieve that pitch perfect timing has left the performance cold and charmless.
The show rests heavily on the comic timing to deliver the laughs, and while there are some well written, chuckle-inducing lines (“What’s an ellipsis?” “It…”), there wasn’t much to enjoy once the shock of the 100-mile-an-hour pace had worn off and drifted into tedium. The narrative is a construct of itty-bitty scenes of business jargon jokes and spreadsheet satire. Though the novelty wore off quickly, it should have worked well in keeping the comedy fresh and short. Unfortunately, because “Enterprise” does have something of a plot (though nothing remarkable) it mean that I had to try and keep track of the story within the chaotic structure, however I was impressed by the smoothness of the many, many transitions.
Even within each itty-bitty scene, there was a clear formula that they made no attempt to hide. Start with stating or re-stating the problem at hand, follow with idea to a solution, finish with either a snappy quip or a monologue on a minor aspect of the business world, overly-elongated to the nth degree for comic effect. This will satisfy the most basic expectations of relatable comedy but will leave everyone else wanting a lot more variety.
Even though the concept of a fast-paced office-based comedy is not exactly ambitious, “Enterprise” fell way short of boundaries they set for themselves. Watching it, I was reminded of a phenomenon present in every school, social group, and company the world over: the colleague who says that they are “crazy”. They will often amp up their personality in the first few days you know them, but gradually reveal themselves to be a perfectly ordinary and unoriginal but with an elevated opinion of themselves and their own uniqueness and quirks. Granted, I am far from the target audience, not working in an office and lacking male genitals between my legs, but that is a poor excuse of an over-cooked and under-inspired mess. Two stars.