I’m simply waiting patiently.
I love a good wordplay gag delivered at breakneck speed, the sort “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” used to deliver when Stephen Fry went rapid-fire nonsense on Hugh Laurie without a stutter, laugh, or breath. Director Derin Seale‘s short film The Eleven O’Clock is a wonderful comedic scenario in that mold thanks to Josh Lawson‘s shrewdly surreal script wherein a psychiatrist’s new patient believes he too is a psychiatrist. By setting the stage on a day when the real doctor’s secretary hires a temp (Jessica Wren‘s Linda) to sub in for the morning, Lawson ensures we cannot know which is which. Add a slew of intentional visual and auditory clues meant to deceive in order to foster confusion and we won’t know for certain until the end.
First we meet Dr. Terry Phillips (Lawson)—a confident gentleman with an air of professionalism who is having difficulty getting into his desk drawer. Next is Dr. Nathan Klein (Damon Herriman)—a scatterbrain with blinders on who mumbles to himself as he enters the office, surprised someone is already there. The easy assumption is that the filmmakers have flipped preconceptions by making the man with poise into the patient and the jumpy one into the doctor, but what if they’re actually doing a double-switch to set-up the reversal only to deliver exactly what it appears to be on the surface? You could run in circles trying to guess, but that would only hinder your enjoyment of the quick-witted verbal war that ensues with precision timing and indefatigable hilarity.
Whether it’s the constant dismissal by one to correct the other in his wanting to be called “doctor” or a word association exercise gone awry with each round’s catalyst becoming the next round’s answer, the audience is kept perpetually on its toes. Lawson becomes the consummate straight man slowly losing patience while Herriman continuously loses his train of thought, forgetting how complicated any exchange they share will ultimately prove. Linda becomes the pickle in the middle, her own unfamiliarity with her surroundings amplifying the men’s penchant to believe they’re each the one with his name on the wall (no one checking is a plot hole worth ignoring). Between this convoluted scenario and the “psychiatrists” within (of whom we all believe are narcissists anyway), it’s impossible not to find yourself caught in the whirlwind, hanging on every word.