Fair warning: there's a job fair from hell going on at Manbites Dog Theater. One speaker is a geographer who's got some real boundary issues. Another's a court reporter who has trouble reporting his views on almost anything. The third? A typographer whose diverse array of stammers, stutters, and vocal pauses indicates some difficulty in committing to complete thoughts. But in THE TYPOGRAPHER'S DREAM, playwright Adam Bock's loopy one-act, a premise that, in the wrong hands, could have panned out as low-grade sketch comedy instead offers unexpected insight and delight.
In this staging by Durham's Black Ops Theatre Company—its second production ever—brooding typographer Margaret (Jessica Flemming), geographer Annalise (JoRose), and pensive stenographer Dave (Lazarus Simmons) are all clearly geeks of a feather, obsessive about the intricacies of their crafts and charmingly oblivious to their profoundly limited scope of interests.
Matters change after Margaret, who loves getting lost in the design of type fonts, is confronted by the business element of her work. This leads her to a moral quandary about how unethical typography can slant or falsify the world around us. After her monologue on this topic, Annalise shows pictures of geographical choke points around the world while she and Dave create a conversational choke point, preventing Margaret from getting a word in edgewise.
But things get more complex—and, occasionally, muddier under JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell's direction—as the characters shift between the present, a party on the night before where unwelcome revelations come out, and isolated, spotlighted moments of insight. By the end of seventy brisk minutes, this awkward threesome have learned a bit more about themselves, and they've managed to change our view of the world as well.