Review: “Patty from HR: A Zoom with a View”

Patty from HR is pissed. After being fired from her dream job as the Human Resources Director at The New Yorker magazine, she’s been reduced to conducting Zoom training sessions for the uninformed. Well, she will be if she can get past her inaugural session/audition.

That’s the premise of Patty from HR: A Zoom with a View. It’s the season opener at Sebastopol’s Main Stage West and it runs through September 11. One you’ve provided proof of COVID vaccination at the box office, you’ll be escorted to your seat in the quaint theater where you will find it is possible to laugh from behind a mask.

Michael Phillis

Patty, described as the world’s first Human Resources drag queen, is the creation of San Francisco-based performer Michael Phillis. He can be regularly seen at the Oasis, San Francisco’s premiere queer and drag cabaret space, where he’s made quite a name for himself via his drag adaptations of iconic sitcoms like Friends and The Golden Girls.

Patty enters from the rear of the house and, with some difficulty, takes the stage to introduce her audience to the workings of this new-fangled thing she’s sure you’ve never heard of – Zoom!  She then proceeds to spend the next 65 minutes talking about every but and then closes with a diatribe that encapsulates how a lot of us feel about this new technology. While she never explicitly says it, I take those last moments as a criticism of the proliferation of streaming theatre and how it can never, EVER replace the shared-experience of live performance. Bravo, Patty.

Interspersed between the rare moments of actual training are hilarious bits about Patty’s backstory, from her introduction of personnel policies at a neighborhood lemonade stand to her participation in Jeffrey Toobin’s infamous self-satisfying Zoom conference call.

To be succinct, Michael Phillis’ A Zoom with A View is no drag.

‘Patty from HR: A Zoom with a View’ runs Thursday–Sunday through September 11 at Main Stage West, 104 N. Main St., Sebastopol. Thursday–Saturday at 8pm; 5pm matinees on Sunday. $20–$32. Thursday night performances are ‘Pay What You Can’ at the door with limited seating. 707.823.0177. mainstagewest.com

Photos by Meg Messina

This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian.

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