“I am a professional salesman. I am a professional salesman.” So runs, with drolly insecure variations, the mantra of the woebegone hero of “Timeshare,” which has been extended at the Eclectic Company Theatre.
Former writer Tom (Tony Pauletto) has reluctantly started working at Exclusive Adventures, a grinningly smarmy source of luxury holidays and the job that Tom hopes will save his imperiled home, marriage and outlook.
Despite the competitive stimulus of his co-workers and unrelenting pep talks from boss Frank (playwright Steve B. Green, who also directs), Tom is painfully aware that his company offers a product people don't need at prices they cannot afford, and that potential clients only care about the free flat-screen TV.
For the record
An earlier version of this review misidentified playwright Steve B. Green as Seth B. Green.
Green’s darkly comic look at a high-pressure vacation franchise has plenty of new-play issues, although respectable intent and some genuinely sharp dialogue attends its wry premise.
For much of Act 1, “Timeshare” hovers between soft-centered second cousin to “Glengarry Glen Ross” and a particularly twisted “Parks and Recreation” episode in the sardonically drawn archetypes that Tom and company encounter with tensely smiling faces.
Then, as intermission approaches, an epically disgruntled customer (Paul Messinger) takes matters into his own hands, and the play enters another realm altogether. And the tonal inconsistencies between a ribald workplace satire on consumer inanity and a grimly underpinned social allegory don’t exactly coalesce by the ironic epilogue.
Pauletto, who suggests a lower-key young Vince Vaughn, makes an appealing, dryly understated protagonist. His colleagues, who range from realistic to stylized, are endearingly game, with Messinger, Kerr Lordygan’s determinedly ruthless coeval, Sarmarie Klein’s sly potential love interest and Marbry Steward as Messinger's daft New Age wife among the standouts.
Still, “Timeshare” could use some healthy cuts and scrapping the interval, and an outside directorial perspective might be helpful. For now, it's a periodically funny, generally promising, overstretched work-in-progress.
“Timeshare,” Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Jan. 31. $10. (818) 508-3003 or www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.