July 10, 2017

DCs in the footlights

DCs in the footlights

"Fulfillment Center," a new play set in an e-commerce distribution center, recently opened in New York.

By DC Velocity Staff

Thanks to consumers' fascination with e-commerce and the constant flood of stories about Amazon.com in the general press, the public has become aware of the existence of DCs and how they do what they do. That's been a good thing for us; now when someone asks what we write about, we can say "automated distribution centers like the ones Amazon runs" and get nods and knowing smiles, rather than puzzled frowns.

One more sign that warehouses are becoming part of the cultural landscape: A play set in an e-commerce facility opened off Broadway in New York in June. Ironically titled "Fulfillment Center"—none of the characters' hopes or plans are fulfilled—the play by Abe Koogler takes place in a giant online retailer's shipping center in New Mexico. Among the characters are a broke, out-of-shape folk singer who takes a physically demanding job at the DC and the young warehouse manager who has relocated from New York with his girlfriend in hopes of performing well enough to earn a transfer to company headquarters in Seattle.

Several reviews, including one (largely negative) review at the Theater Mania website, focus on the play's missed opportunity to explore "the human cost of our brave new economy of non-union labor and unforgiving metrics," while the laudatory New York Times review is all about the characters' personal relationships, hopes and disappointments, and inability to connect with each other.

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