Since I attended the final performance of the Public Theater’s production of Julia Cho’s Office Hour, I figured it wouldn’t behoove me to write about it, even though I think it’s one of the most vital plays of the season.
I’m actually not sure I would qualify it as one of the best, but that might just be due to my own limited biases that cannot fully enjoy a work that deliberately toys with the audience’s conception of artistic quality. If the content of a play about the current gun situation in America should dictate its form, then Office Hour should be celebrated – not negatively judged – for its relentlessly, perpetually, often confoundingly challenging nature. When a piece of art intentionally questions our beliefs regarding what art should be, disregarding that intent simply because you didn’t enjoy yourself feels wrong.
Yet most critics scorned Cho’s work, with very few attempting to unpack the intricacies of what she may have been striving to achieve. Instead of providing their readers with a framework to wrestle with the play, reviewers simplistically wrote it off.
If I had seen it earlier in the run, I would’ve handled the material very differently…and now I wish that I had because apparently the play will be remounted in the new year at the esteemed Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven and at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre on the west coast.
If you happen to live near one of these theatres, I urge you to contend with a true work of art, emphasis on the work. If you do, please reach out to me so that we can work through our confusion together. That’s what Julia Cho would’ve wanted, and what America desperately needs right now.