Welcome to the cheerless world of Mr. Zero (a fine turn by David Allen Jones), a numbers-crunching office drone, 35 years on the same job ("Never missed a day!"), whose home life is equally depressing because of his incessantly badgering wife (Karen Kalensky). Things get much worse for him when he is suddenly informed that he's to be replaced by an adding machine. In a flash, Zero murders his boss (David Ghilardi) and is tried, convicted and executed. But his misery does not end at death. In a brief, comical sojourn in the afterlife, he encounters a co-worker he had the hots for (Jane Macfie), but during a philosophical discussion with the creepy but hysterically funny Lt. Charles (Frank Simons), Zero learns he must return to Earth and do it all over again. Call it a reincarnation treadmill. Elmer Rice's 1923 landmark expressionist satire could well have been written last year. Racism, sexual harassment, corporate greed and downsizing are all issues the play humorously essays. This production boasts a solid cast that turns in polished, energetic performances under the crafty direction of Kevin Cochran. Leonard Ogden's toy-box set design, redolent of a continually morphing Lego block, is a hoot. GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Aug. 18. (818) 528-6622, gtc.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: July 21. Continues through Aug. 18, 2012