From the writer of last season’s Aubergine, a play that was so lovingly produced at Playwrights Horizons, Julia Cho has crafted a very different but possibly far more powerful and disturbing tale. It is one that I couldn’t imagine coming from that previous exploration of culture and heritage. Office Hour, currently being performed by a most excellent cast at The Public Theater, is much more far reaching and global in its dissertation regarding college campus gun violence and mass shootings. There is a slice of cultural connectivity that happens, but that definitely is a footnote in the greater dissection of gun culture and the fear and anxiety that now exists on school campuses nationwide.
As directed by Neel Keller (The Nether), one of the problems with the structure is that a greater sense of Dennis’s disturbance is hard to pin down or deepen. The ideas about power, silence, and the act of making oneself unlikeable is thought-provoking, and definitely keeps us sitting on the edge of our seats, but what does it truly add up to in the end? They feel like fragmented concepts rather then a portrait slowly being pieced together. The one true scene that fully draws us into his pain, is the brilliantly constructed phone call enactment that Gina attempts using her understanding of their similar ethnic background to break through. It pops in a way that no other moment does, but sadly Dennis slips back into anger and unquestionable rage and panic too soon for a deeper analysis. I wanted more from him in that moment. Maybe we can never understand all the aspects and possible emotional complexities that bounce around inside such a man’s head, and that could be Cho’s intent, but as a piece of theatre, we hope for a deeper understanding.