"Antidote" Heals Office Woes

Liquid Theatre"Antidote" is set in an office, but the action hardly resembles the work of white-collar workers.
Nearly everyone who has worked in an office has wanted to get up on a desk, dance for joy and do somersaults.

No? You just go home after a day and sulk? Take a glance instead at an office that has no David Brent, nor staff who, like those in "Office Space," hate every second of their working life.

Instead, performance group Liquid Theatre show an energized office that is as wild as the circus and comes complete with laughs and acrobatics.

"Most of us have never seen office gray-colored people in such circumstances," said Liquid Theatre director Olga Korshakova in a written response to questions about the troupe's new piece "Antidote."

"It is about people, about seeing the person next to you and communicating with them," said director Alexei Zherebtsov. "It is about the relationships between people and how building them ultimately improves the world."

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The piece runs on Nov. 17 and 19.
The theater's lack of experience behind desks and standing around water coolers may explain its fresh, upbeat picture of life in the office in the play that shows Nov. 17 and 19 as part of the 10th New European Theatre (NET) festival, which stars new modern theater groups from Europe and Russia.

Liquid Theatre was founded in Chelyabinsk and combines elements of modern dance, acrobatics and theater in its shows that it usually performs in open-air spaces or by "filling" an interior space, be it a museum staircase or a hotel lobby. Actors often interact among or even with the audience, cultivating the performance out of the space in which it's held.

Despite the unusual setting for "Antidote" — a plain old stage in an old paper factory — Korshakova gives assurance that the show is still performed outside traditional boundaries. "From the very beginning of the show, which starts before [the] audience enters the performing space, girls in business suits sit in the windows of the factory discussing business questions while clerks balance on the banisters," she said.

Dressed in gray suits, performers look like typical office drones but react in a way that breaks all preconceptions about office life. The performance is backed by a soundtrack likely little heard in the halls of Gazprom or Citibank, including music by hard rock group Nine Inch Nails.

liquid theatre
Liquid Theatre performers can be found not just on stage but also in a former paper factory.
The protean performance does not spare the audience the crude reality of corporate working life, but it does paint white-collar existence in a warmer- (and sillier-) than-usual light. "It is about a life in the office, one day of the people who work there, and what's going on there," said Korshakova. "How they amuse themselves, what they grieve from, what they laugh at. It is about love and about people and a sense of humor."

Liquid Theatre will perform their piece "Antidote" on Nov. 17 and 19 at the concert hall of Aktovy Zal, 18 Perevedenovsky Pereulok, entrance 1. M. Baumanskaya. 265-3935. www.aktzal.ru.