In Four Audio Plays, No Stages but Lots of New Voices

In 4 Audio Performs, No Phases however Numerous New Voices

So it’s a little bit of a thriller that Isaac Gómez’s audio play, “Wally World,” is such a pleasantly enjoyable expertise, even because it thrives on office tensions. From the primary notes of vacation music on the prime of the present (the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s jazzy “O Tannenbaum,” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) and the primary static off the walkie-talkies that maintain the shop’s administration crew related, we sense that we’re in good arms.

Like many a Christmas story, this sprawling ensemble dramedy — directed by Gómez and Lili-Anne Brown for Steppenwolf Theater Firm — has at its middle somebody who has misplaced her manner. Andy (Sandra Marquez) has spent 23 Christmas Eves at this Wally World in El Paso, Tex., working her manner as much as retailer supervisor, fearsomely bossing an entire crew of deputies. Hassle is, the rigor that helped her rise now clouds her imaginative and prescient and stunts her sympathy.

A cousin of types to the sitcom “Superstore,” “Wally World” hits its mark a lot better than the Off Broadway musical “Walmartopia” did. This play is a fiction, but for Gómez (“the best way she spoke”), a really private one: His mom, too, labored her manner up from cashier to supervisor at a Walmart in El Paso. “Wally World” is a portrait of a spot he is aware of — so properly that he neglects to elucidate a few of its jargon.

On this Christmas Eve, Andy’s retailer is short-handed. You would possibly assume the added strain would ship everybody scrambling, however that’s constantly true solely of the no-nonsense Estelle. In a standout efficiency by Jacqueline Williams, she is the character we root for hardest — particularly when she reviews “precise velociraptors destroying our retailer.”

A detailed second is Jax (the terrific Kevin Curtis), an assistant supervisor who begins his workday with aplomb by insulting the higher-ranking Mark (Cliff Chamberlain), who’s a sexual-harassment lawsuit ready to occur.

Spiked with sociopolitical point-making and reasonably numerous day consuming, “Wally World” (which runs two hours and 20 minutes) has a forged of 10, which could have threatened to overwhelm the medium: so many voices to study. However the performances are nearly uniformly robust, and Aaron Stephenson’s sound design is remarkably considerate.

So it’s simple to comply with alongside, although Janie (Karen Rodriguez) isn’t credibly written as the hardly functioning alcoholic of the bunch, whereas Karla (Leslie Sophia Perez), the only gross sales affiliate we meet, appears extra plot gadget than individual. There’s, nevertheless, an enthralling romantic subplot, and the ending is satisfying with out being too candy.

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