Work Eats Home shorts set in the office

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Through July 12. Tickets are $12 ($6 on Fridays); visit www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com.
Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), S.F.

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Watching a series of one-act plays about life in corporate America might seem like a crappy way to wind down after a long week in, well, corporate America. But the folks at Sleepwalkers Theatre, who specialize in producing new works by new writers, at least manage to put you in the mood: They charge only six bucks for a Friday night performance and even let you drink beer in the auditorium. Work Eats Home is a collection of five original pieces, all of which share a concern with the aggressive tedium of life in your average office. As with almost any evening of one-acts, the results are mixed, but at least the strong elements far outweigh the weak. Only one piece (Noelle Chandler's "I Am the Wrecking Ball") falls completely flat; each of the others has something to recommend it, in particular the beautifully written speech that forms the bulk of Tim Bauer's "The Magic Word." And then there's the evening's finale (Ryan Beebe's "Something Warm"), which is borderline extraordinary. That extraordinariness is due in large part to Ari Owens and Ian Riley, the actors who dominate the play. They're a pair of powerful talents who manage to navigate some very tricky monologues with deceptive ease, and they're reason enough for you to spend a Friday night revisiting the workaday horrors of the previous week.

 
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