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They say: Dacyl Acevedo dodges booby-trapped interviews, faces demons of employment past and holds tight to her dream, while surviving the economic crash. Will Work For is a farcical, satirical journey into today’s job market, told through storytelling, clown and physical theatre.
Rachel’s Take: I’ve seen a lot of clowns in my time—sad, pompous, demonic— but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Employed Clown. There she is, though, at the top of Dacyl Acevedo’s one-woman show, delightedly swiping her credit card for Starbucks and taxis, secure of her place in the clean, orderly, self-respecting world of having an office job as any of us clowns can be.
In a mix of third person narration, recreated scenes, and clownterludes with deft silent-movie music, Will Work For explores how thin and selectively permeable the barrier between grabbing a cab without thinking and begging friends for $20 for food was for Acevedo, who was laid off from administrative work in 2008 and lacked steady work for the next few years. She embodies also a small army of the unemployed, as well as those whose employment revolves around unemployed people, but mostly she shows us her frenzied, increasingly desperate self, scrabbling for opportunity and any chance to feel productive.
“I was my mother’s American dream,” Acevedo tells us, and how her mother worked—is still working, it sounds like—herself to physical ruin so Acevedo could be the first in her family to go to college, only to end up, decades later, scrounging for a job waiting tables and defaulting on her student loans, not knowing what the point of her own and her mother’s sacrifices will turn out to be. If there is one.
That’s the unanswered question suggested by the title — What exactly has Acevedo been working for? Money? Pride? A roof over her head? — and Acevedo and director Jo Cattell have worked out some clever and funny ways for her to demonstrate her long, laborious climb to nowhere. A dream sequence toward the end brings her languishing potential to physical life, in a joyous, liberating dance.
She’s such an engaging, bright and energetic performer you can’t help but think what a waste it was for her to spend prime working years waiting in lines for assistance and practicing strong handshakes. Except that all of that prepared her for this lovely one-woman show, which might be what she was working for all along.
See it if: You wonder what Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp would get up to in this economy.
Skip it if: You can’t spend another minute thinking about this economy.