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    Review: The Roommate at the Humana Festival is Heart and Humor
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    When most people think of their roommates, they think of college, or the years just beyond; when making ends meet was more than just a bit of a challenge; when one moved in with a perfect stranger without batting an eye, and began sharing refrigerator shelves and bathroom drawers before knowing how to spell their last name.

    But for The Roommate's conservative Sharon, a divorced Iowan mother of a certain age, getting a roommate to help pay the bills was quite a different experience.

    Especially when that roommate turned out to be Robyn. Robyn, who, on paper, appeared to be like her. Single, mid-fifties, in the 'sunset years.'

    But from the moment these two met, it became instantly clear that 'alike' was not an accurate description for them.

    Yet oddly enough, Sharon (Margaret Daly) and Robyn (Tasha Lawrence) make things work, getting to know each other through some hilarious dialogue around Sharon’s kitchen table.

    As in every great play, there must be some dramatic action; some turn of events that keeps the audience invested. The Roommate succeeds in providing that jolt of a plot twist, as Robyn, guarded with her personal life since the beginning, inadvertently reveals parts of her life that she meant to keep hidden. From there, all bets are off and Robyn exposes Sharon to a side of life that she’s never seen before.

    Playwright Jen Silverman has captured the stereotype of the naïve and people-pleasing Midwesterner to a “T,” and has painted Robyn, tough girl from the Bronx, with a likable humanity that wins the audience over quickly. We are drawn to these women, and as different as they are, they are drawn to each other. Silverman has written each of them with quirky depth, which Daly and Lawrence have enhanced with skill and an easy comradery. Though at an hour and 40 minutes with no intermission, the play gets a bit long, it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience watching these two women grapple with the decision of who they really want to be.

    With humor and heart, Silverman has written a play that explores, with great empathy, relationships with self and with others. The Roommate tugs at the heartstrings as much as it tickles the funny bone.

    The Roommate, directed by Mike Donahue, is the first production in the 39th Annual Humana Festival at Actors Theatre. Tickets for The Roommate and for all other Humana Festival offerings are available online or by calling the Actors Theatre box office at 502.584.1205. The Roommate runs through April 12.

    Image: Courtesy of B. Brymer/Actors Theatre




    Michelle Rynbrandt's picture

    About Michelle Rynbrandt

    Before landing in the Possibility City, Michelle toured the country performing in various regional theatres. Having been there and done that, she can honestly say that Louisville's cultural opportunities are second to none.

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