What that corporation does - well, I've seen the show and I don't know. Neither do Victor and Norm. It doesn't matter. Big Boys is not quite traditionally absurdist - it has an obvious plot without a hint of symbolism - but it's absurd nonetheless, in a Marx Brothers sort of way.
"Do you think the ends always justify the means?" asks the boss to his young trainee.
"Absolutely!" says the kid, eager to please.
"You're coming along nicely!" the boss shoots back.
Or, says the boss, "Give them a bonus and deduct it from their salaries."
"I already have."
"I'm so proud of you!
Orloff's play is not as much a running joke as it is a running method of joking: Boss is slimy, underling calls him on it, Boss takes that as a compliment. Variation: Boss is slimy, underling is slimier, Boss beams with pride.
It's funny, but there's no letup in tone - Big Boys is extreme from first to last. It would become lame, a play with solid form but no real content, were it not in such fine hands.
Pryor, who directs and clearly knows what he wants from the script, portrays the boss with a playful menace that provides a nice tension throughout, making the play more than two hours of one-liners. Haynes is aptly vulnerable at first, but as he morphs into his superior, even his face seems to change to fit his new role.
Big Boys may be saying something about American business or the concepts of ethics and values, greed, corruption, and free enterprise. But I can't get a serious thought out of it. For me, it's a fine-tuned study in silliness, and with clever word play. And that's enough.
Through Oct. 8 at Montgomery Theater,
124 N. Main St., Souderton. Tickets: $29-$35. Information: 215-723-9984 or www.montgom
Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, firstname.lastname@example.org, or #philastage on Twitter. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/howardshapiro. Hear his reviews at the Classical Network, www.wwfm.org.