Cutting close to the bone, Lesley Headland’s ASSISTANCE is a protest, as provocative as Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal (1928), exposing the Darwinian-exploitative nature of the 2013 job market. Irony sucker punched me in the mouth when I looked around the audience and realized, the overworked, underpaid uninsured young adults represented in this play were largely absent, because, well, they were probably working. To people lucky enough to have a job today, killing themselves for $10 an hour before taxes reading this on a rare smoke break I say: Call out sick, get someone to cover your shift. This production will soothe your “working like Sisyphus” migraines better than Aspirin, caffeine, or Tiger Balm.
The ensemble is flawless, and includes some of Philadelphia’s most prolific young actors. The most memorable moment sees Kahyun Kim, flooded in spotlight on a dark stage facing the audience, as recently fired Heather, confessing on a cell phone to her mother: “I’m replaceable, Mom, don’t you get that? I don’t want you, I want my job!” This is one of the best shows of the year, though it will be largely misunderstood by Wilma’s blue-haired subscribers. January 2 to February 3, 2013; wilmatheater.org.