Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of Dry Land
The play's plotting is a bit heavy handedthe titular roommate Robyn has a background of being a conbut the underlying themes seem universal. Those themes have to do with re-inventing yourself, how one person can influence another, and how interpersonal relationships ebb and flow. Sharon, the owner of the house that Robyn comes to live in, takes some serious missteps while rethinking her drab life. This took on a strong personal relevance for me.
Jo Twiss as Sharon is the earth-mother, although her cubs and mate are not hovering around her much. Rita Rehn as Robyn arrives as a border, settling in Iowa, a transplant from The Bronx. Robyn is all over the map emotionally, constantly trying on new things to see if she can put together a better functioning model. It is exciting for sure, but what she craves is Sharon's solidity, while Sharon needs to be pulled out of her lethargy. The possibilities for them to positively influence each other seem strong, but everything goes awry, and Sharon gets entangled in Robyn's shady past. The chemistry between them, the acting rhythms and abilities to relate to each other, is very strong. I saw the play on its first weekend, I would love to return and see it again after they have settled in even more. Both ladies flesh these characters out, and the audience connects to them emotionally.
I have to believe that the most important focus for director Gavin Cameron-Webb was to help each actress find the center of her character, the deeper emotions and other driving forces. Based on the performances in front of me, he has done this very well. Lex Liang has designed a practically functioning kitchen and the costumes as well. Mike Wood is the lighting designer.
The Roommate is an interesting play. Much of it is comic in tone, allowing audiences to be entertained while also finding something to think about that may be relevant to their own lives. Florida Studio Theatre has another hit production for their Summer Mainstage series.
Florida Studio Theatre presents The Roommate through August 7, 2016, at the Keating Theater 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit floridastudiotheatre.org.
Cast (in order of appearance):
Scenic & Costume Designer: Lex Liang