The enigmatic character, Bartleby, embodies the confounding human problem at the heart of the office workplace. Imagined by Herman Melville in his equally enigmatic and acclaimed 1853 story that bears the character’s name, he asks: how much of another person’s humanity will we bear when it obstructs the flow of our work? What is the meaning of the work we do?
Julian Hobba’s adaptation of Melville’s story puts Bartleby in the contemporary Australian office, where the demands of technology and expectations of endless advancement have made the atmosphere permanently schizophrenic. Brilliantly capable, frustratingly unworkable, he forces the wise old lawyer who employs him to choose between the office â€” that effective system for managing human behavior â€” and Bartleby’s being.