Tensions mount in an ad agency as two men wait to see who's getting the ax, in this skillful play by Malachy Walsh

Malachy Walsh's new play about a copywriter and a graphic designer preparing to get axed from an ad agency owes a lot to David Mamet. The terse dialogue, the insider's take on a business, and the sleight of hand Walsh uses to unveil a rotten situation are all tricks from American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross. The two men comprise a crumbling partnership, a kind of bad marriage between the uptight careerist in a dress shirt and pleated slacks (Paul, played by James Cutts), who can be efficient but cruel, and the earnest, muss-haired married guy (Matt, played by Chris Pflueger) who just wants to be friends. Walsh's humor and suspense are character-driven, and the actors tangle skillfully, but the tension sags after we learn which half of this "creative team" is about to lose his job. I think Walsh is reaching for a play about hubris that doesn't quite come off. Still, his "candid look at just how small life in a cubicle can get" isn't as familiar or dry as it sounds, and Walsh deserves to be watched.

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