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‘Grey Matter’ skewers corporate culture

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Julie Katz appears in “Grey Matter,” a funny solo show about the contemporary workplace. (Courtesy Serena Morelli)

Anyone who has worked for a corporation, or known someone who’s worked for a corporation, or dealt with a corporation, can relate to “Grey Matter.”

Writer-actor Julie Katz’s funny, astute one-person look at corporate culture onstage at The Marsh is a welcome addition to today’s theater scene, where stories about the modern workplace are too few.

Katz, directed by Lexi Diamond and coached by solo performance expert David Ford, wonderfully portrays a handful of characters at “The Company.” (It’s somehow appropriate that it’s never clear what the company does.)

They include: the cheerful but beleaguered manager, who informs staffers that birthday celebrations are canceled due to budget cuts, reprimands them for not properly refilling the paper towel roll, and updates them on the whereabouts of the artisan hot chocolate dispenser (which keeps being moved to please feuding departments).

Then there’s Sara, another cheerful person who’s on the payroll support team and is the only character in the show with a name. Her encounter with IT, when her computer’s about to lose a document she’s been working on the a long time, is priceless. Equally hilarious is her exchange in which she asks a worker with a question about wages to supply a 37-digit number before she can be of help.

Other characters include the IT guy, who gives the same advice (“restart”) to all inquiries, as he lifts weights; and a worker on the legal team who has a thought-provoking conversation about the meaning of life and work with a painter, as they take in an art show together.

Katz also charmingly captures the workplace jargon, describing The Company’s mission “to make an aspect of an industry better.”

While what befalls The Company’s workers is hardly surprising — nor is the way it happens — Katz wraps up her tale with a particularly interesting new viewpoint and character that could be explored much more, and add more depth to this amusing, if not entirely revelatory, glimpse.

“The Company” also could do more with its visuals. Katz moves around some wall charts set onstage, but does little more with them, leaving the audience thinking they might be used as more than a backdrop or prop.

REVIEW
Grey Matter
Where: Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; closes July 9
Tickets: $20 to $100
Contact: (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org

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