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F.I.R.E.

A surprise suspenseful audit at a hedge fund incites corporate intrigue in this entertaining Zoom presentation of a solid play with a game cast. 

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Cast of New Normal Rep’s production of “F.I.R.E.” by Julia Blauvelt (Photo credit: Dora Elmer)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

Crucial journal entries, reconciliations and ledgers are the elements of a surprise suspenseful audit in the accounting department at a boutique Manhattan hedge fund in playwright Julia Blauvelt’s amiable corporate intrigue tale, F.I.R.E. It emulates such office classics as Executive Suite, Patterns and Glengarry Glen Ross, is solidly written, and has the neat 12 Angry Men-style device of the cross section of humanity accountants striving to wrap it up in time to attend a company after work bar party with free drinks and free food.

It’s not personal, Noel.

It’s just

A perfectly good Thursday night in the middle of the summer and my cat has finally died so I answer to no one and nothing?

I was going to make linguine and watch Real Housewives all night.

Ms. Blauvelt has a fine ear for contemporary dialogue, sharply delineates her seven characters and gradually sets up a credible plot. The resolution is a familiar take on the financial world’s amorality. Warren Buffet is revered, and the play’s title is a clever acronym for a philosophical credo to amass enough money to get out of the rat race during one’s prime (i.e. Financial Independence Retire Early).

Kierra Bunch and Ella Dershowitz in a scene from New Normal Rep’s production of “F.I.R.E.” by Julia Blauvelt (Photo credit: Dora Elmer)

Do you know how expensive it is to have friends outside of work?

They always want to go out to eat.

They always want to just “split the tab” equally even though some people had way more expensive meals

And if someone has a birthday?

You have to get a present, a card, travel to wherever they are.

It’s extremely not F.I.R.E. to have friends outside of work.

Blauvelt has crafted a worthy work that has been given an entertaining streaming on demand Zoom presentation by the New Normal Rep which was formed in 2020 and “is dedicated to presenting both new and underproduced plays via the internet, in ways that maintain the essential dramatic spirit and nature of both the works and the theatrical experience itself.”

The animated, game and appealing cast all perform their stereotypical office world roles with relish. They are Jeffrey Bean, Kierra Bunch, Nathaniel P. Claridad, Ella Dershowitz, Aaron Matteson, Nygel D. Robinson and Carol Todd.

Nygel D. Robinson and Nathaniel P. Claridad in a scene from New Normal Rep’s production of “F.I.R.E.” by Julia Blauvelt (Photo credit: Dora Elmer)

Director Heather Arnson’s realization is characterized by visual élan. The presentation opens with lovely establishing images of the building’s exterior and overhead views of the empty workspace, then switches to the Zoom format of small square blocks. The backgrounds of the actors are realistic and artfully blend to simulate the semblance of them being together even in a scene taking place at a copier. Ms. Arnson’s crisp video staging adds as much momentum to the material as possible.

Costume designer David C. Woolard’s authentic business wear, Edward T. Morris’ vivid multi-media design and Lindsay Jones’ well-modulated sound design all contribute to the production’s technical success.

F.I.R.E. is an enjoyable addition to the pandemic-era genre of virtual theater.

F.I.R.E. (streaming through October 20, 2021)

New Normal Rep

For tickets, visit  http://www.NewNormalRep.org

Running time: one hour and 42 minutes including a brief intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (759 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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