Red Eye Thug Life

“The Thugs,” an office-set murder mystery, plays off of character stereotypes to cultivate a quick-paced, witty show.

by John Sand

âÄúThe ThugsâÄù WHERE: The Red Eye Theater, 15 14th St. W., Minneapolis WHEN: Oct. 9 – 25 PRICE: $8 Students Take one part NBCâÄôs âÄúThe Office,âÄù add in one part AMCâÄôs âÄúMad Men,âÄù and slowly stir in two parts of Angela LansburyâÄôs âÄúMurder, She Wrote.âÄù What emerges is âÄúThe Thugs,âÄù a new production by The Red Eye Theater. The short production features clipped, conversational dialogue, shallow, quick-witted characters and mysterious deaths. âÄúThe ThugsâÄù employs all of the drama and mishaps present in an office. âÄúThe play has a serious tone, but itâÄôs definitely a comedy,âÄù actress Katherine Kupiecki says. The production mixes high-tension drama with a satire of the monotony of meaningless employment. As Leif Jurgensen, one of the companyâÄòs actors, puts it, âÄúConspiracy theories and gossip abound.âÄù Instead of focusing on the gradual development of dynamic characters, the show reveals each static personality decisively. All of the office workers are temps, slowly passing through the office on their way to another destination. As Jurgensen admits, âÄúNo one really divulges anything deeply personal in the play.âÄù The lack of quality relationships in the cluster of cubicles inflames the intensity of the homicides. Like NBCâÄôs Thursday night line-up, âÄúThe ThugsâÄù features caricatures of typical people encountered in everyday life. âÄúThey arenâÄôt really stereotypes,âÄù says Kupiecki. âÄúItâÄôs more like, âÄòOh, I know that person.âÄô âÄù JurgensenâÄôs character Bart is the only man in the office, and is known as an arrogant busy-body. Katherine KupieckiâÄôs Mercedes is as close to an antagonist as there is; sheâÄôs an abrasive tattle-tale favored by the mysterious higher-ups. From the characters to the script, âÄúThe ThugsâÄù stays honest in its interpretation of work relationships. âÄúThereâÄôs not a lot of exposition; every stall is scripted,âÄù says Kupiecki, âÄúThere are no complete sentences. ItâÄôs like listening to a real conversation. No one speaks in monologues.âÄù âÄúThe ThugsâÄù develops skillfully, squeezing 100 pages of fragmented sentences into just under an hour. With character satire running rampant these days, the addition of a pulp fiction element of murder ramps up the tension and the comedy, leaving the audience entirely relieved at the lack of commercials.