The Roommate – Review by Tom Nissley

Two women, both late middle age and both empty nesters – otherwise different as night and day – meet on stage in front of us. Sharon (Linda Powell) owns the small house in Iowa, and Robyn (Tasha Lawrence) has rented space in it for herself and all her worldly possessions, which are stacked in cartons along the edge of a California room just off the eat-in kitchen of Dane Laffrey’s handsome set. Mike Donahue, who has worked with Ms. Silverman on this show before, directs.

Sharon is as naïve as it’s possible to be. Robyn, on the other hand, has been around long enough to recognize that Sharon’s sweet offers to help unpack her belongings and probing questions are not to be trusted. But the probing does uncover that Robyn hasn’t yet given up smoking and is what Sharon describes to someone on the phone as, “a homosexual.”

This play might be a set-up for a female version of “The Odd Couple.” It gets worse as the play careens through Sharon ripping open a carton belonging to Robyn while Robyn’s away, trying on some of the clothes in the carton, and then discovering a whole bunch of driver’s licenses with pictures of Robyn but different names – aliases – that Robyn has used to do “bad things.”

Robyn should have left the scene as soon as that little action got revealed but I can’t hold it against her because I myself stayed and should have bolted.

Eventually the two become sort-of friends. By this stage in the play Robyn has taught Sharon how to smoke and then to peddle Marijuana. One night in a haze of feel good they dance together, and Sharon gives Robyn a real kiss. With a ‘whoops’ she pulls away and rushes to bed. By morning all the cartons, and Robyn, are gone. Now it is really time to leave, but before we can, the phone rings and a code language they had used to seduce folks into sending money to a fake charity allows Robyn to say goodbye and Sharon to think about starting over.

Caveat emptor. If you dislike this production as much as I did, you’ll be sorry that you wasted your time. The set was great. The sound (Stowe Nelson) and lighting (Reza Behjat), too. The costumes (Anita Yavich) seemed appropriate, and the two actors were good at dealing with the Script they had to deal with.

www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282 for tickets or information.

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre October 19

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