Visit our social channels!
June 24, 2023
A perplexing dystopian musical that ends in a folksy dance number
Review: In Corpo
The cast of In Corpo. Credit: Bjorn Bolinder.

A world devastated by pollution and climate change. A soulless corporation with mindless employees. A girl from the outside with dangerous ideas. Welcome to In Corpo: a new musical by Ben Beckley and Nate Weida (Jess Chayes directs) presented by The Assembly and Dutch Kills Theater Company at Theatre Row. Working from two short masterpieces of existential thought—Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" and Kafka's "The Castle"—Beckley and Weida have tried to create a work that speaks to our modern isolation, dependence on technology, and indifference about the wider world. Unfortunately, all of this has been said before, complete with the same dystopian metaphor and even the rebellious heroine bit. To succeed at this point, a story in this vein would have to either do something radically different or be told and performed incredibly well. And, again, unfortunately, In Corpo does neither.

The show begins with K, a lone survivor from the outside world (which has been covered in snow for years), standing on the doorstep of Corpo: a major corporation (we never find out what it is they do) that reports to a mysterious entity known as "The Castle." When she arrives, her estranged father, who sent a message asking her to come on as a consultant, is nowhere to be found. Taking over his position is George Bendemann, a hapless but devoted employee who has no idea what K is doing there. Gradually, K becomes assimilated into Corpo, then spurs her fellow employees to rebel against its mindless drudgery and strict protocols. The show ends with K's father returning as a half-dead android, a bloody stick of metal protruding from his head (oddly, no one remarks on this). Then the employees fight back by laying aside the band's electric keyboards and drumset in favor of acoustic instruments that include a saxophone, tamborine, and cowbell. On the plus side, the folksy finish, if puzzling plotwise, is kind of groovy.

Also on the plus side is RJ Christian (Bendemann), who gets to show off some powerhouse vocals in a few of the show's more exciting musical moments. Zoe Siegel (K) also has a good set of pipes that feature in the Act I finale, when her character rages against having her thoughts read. Layering and distortion are used a few times for some interesting effects that pair nicely with the show's tech-dependent theme. Most of the music tries to convey that theme by keeping a repetitive, machine-like tone, and when the characters aren't speaking sincerely face to face, they use a sing-song voice, presumably to convey impersonability.

But two hours of this becomes tiresome, especially since In Corpo lacks the kind of depth that might make those two hours worth sitting through. We don't know why K is doing any of this—if she hates Corpo and hasn't spoken to her father in years, why is she here now? Among the many other questions I found myself asking were: who's a robot and who's a human? What does K's consultant job entail? And why is one of the characters named Dollar Pizza? A flurry of odd choices and inexplicable plot points, combined with mind-numbing music and a pair of incredibly irritating robots (no shade on the actors, who are admirably committed to their characters), grated on my nerves. When, two-thirds of the way through, one of the characters exclaimed "I'm losing my grip," I thought, yeah, me too.

'In Corpo' runs through July 8th at Theatre Row (410 W 42nd St). For tickets and more info, visit

Click for link
Share this post to Social Media
Written by: Erin Kahn
More articles by this author:

Other Interesting Posts


Or instantly Log In with Facebook