Written by Brad Schreiber. Back Stage West, May 28, 1998
"You buy their tears or they buy your toner." Such is the wisdom of Eddy Kammegian (Douglas Coler), the head of First National Copier Products. A former jailed drug dealer and A. A. member in good standing, he wears his chip with pride, not only encouraging his phone sales staff but proselytizing about financial/spiritual betterment. As a Paris vacation contest winds up, top salesmen Freebase" Frankie (Frank Uzzolino) and "Doc" (Marty Levy) vie ferociously.
Eddy's part-time paramour Judy Dunn (Adelaide Vaughn) ekes out time to be with him, aggravated by the presence of the attractive journalist Nancy Spizer (Susan Ziegler). Gung-ho second-in-command Dallas Murphy (Jimmie F. Skaggs) must help handle the staff's insecurities, including struggling newcomer Jeff Kawasaki (Phinneas Kiyomura).
Playwright Dan Fante has constructed a powerful world in Boiler Room, one in which its titular boss lives and dies by the credo, "Program people are moldable." With the slight exception of Levy pushing the inherent broadness of his character, this cast is flawless, with commanding, precise direction on the part of of Jolene Adams. Fante blindsides the audience with a wonderful twist at the end, and we savor his exceptional dialogue.
Coler turns in a riveting, bravura performance, in a role with the kind of dimensionality actors dream of. Equal parts evangelist, New Age entrepreneur, Svengali, and, inevitably, a man climbing desperately over his tortured past, Coler's nuanced work, in Fante's towering full-length play (his first), bring fascinating mystery to a man proud to espouse, "The word 'no' is only a request for more information."