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a Comedy
by David Lindsay-Abaire

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5272

SHOWING : May 10, 2018 - June 03, 2018



Battle lines are being drawn at the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility. Crabby Abby won’t pay for a private room, but keeps her solitude with an impenetrable spite. That is until new roomie, the fiercely cheerful Marilyn, not only wants to stay, but is vying for Abby’s prime real estate by the window. To settle the score, a seemingly harmless bet reveals the tenacity of these worthy opponents and escalates into an outrageous game of one-upmanship. "The Odd Couple" meets "The Golden Girls" in this over-the-top comedy from Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire.

Director Jaclyn Hofmann
Abby Binder Donna Biscoe
Marilyn Dune Jill Jane Clements
Benjamin/Lewis/Clown Seun Soyemi
Derek/Zombie Butler/Masked Man Jacob York
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by playgoer
Monday, May 14, 2018
David Lindsay-Abaire’s "Ripcord" would seem to be best suited as a made-for-TV movie functioning as the pilot for a TV series. We have two contentious residents in a retirement home who are forced to share a room. It’s a female "Odd Couple," with ever-cheery Marilyn (Jill Jane Clements) horning in on what has usually been an empty space in the room occupied for four years by the cantankerous Abby (Donna Biscoe). It’s a situation tailor-made for a situation comedy.

For episode one (this play), Marilyn has made a bet with Abby that she can make Abby scared before Abby can make her angry. Their plotting takes them from their shared room (the main set of the episode) to a Halloween haunted house, into the skies for a sky-diving expedition, and to a bench in a nearby park. Lizz Dorsey’s set accommodates these various locations, aided by Mary Parker’s lighting design, but it’s only the unit set of the shared room that truly comes across well on the stage. Sarah Thompson’s scenic painting impresses, particularly in the impressionistic fall foliage to the sides of the stage, on proscenium-high panels that hide the red stage curtains, and the painting makes a nice frame for the overall stage picture. It’s an elegant, tasteful unit set suited to a filmed-before-a-live-studio-audience production. Amanda Edgerton West’s costumes and A. Julian Verner’s props complete the stage pictures nicely.

The major plot (the bet) is accompanied by sub-plots concerning Abby’s loss of taste and retirement home employee Scott (Russell Alexander II), an amateur actor who generally tries to keep the peace, while Marilyn’s daughter and son-in-law (Megan Rose and Jacob York) aid and abet Marilyn in her machinations. The plot and sub-plots resolve nicely by the end, with the requisite second-act descent into seriousness with the introduction of Abby’s estranged son (played by Seun Soyami). It’s all polished and formulaic and glibly entertaining.

Jaclyn Hoffman has directed the show to get terrific performances out of her leading ladies and nicely shaded performances from the two young men in the cast; Mr. York and Ms. Rose come off less well. All these minor players are double- or triple-cast in the production, making for less-than-optimal casting for some roles. A TV production, of course, would have the budget to hire distinct actors for each distinct role. A TV production could also splice together sequences that take place in various locations, rather than having Marc Gwinn’s overly loud music sequences cover extended set changes.

"Ripcord" goes down easily, marrying fine performances of nicely distinct characters with an entertaining, if somewhat artificial plot. Aurora’s production does the play justice, but it also shows up the theatrical deficiencies of a storyline that begs to be extended by weekly installments on the small screen. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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