Also see Tracy's review of M. Butterfly
Living Out explores the joys and struggles of Salvadoran nanny Ana Hernandez and her employer, successful lawyer Nancy Robin. Ana is a smart woman with dreams for herself and her children. Her main goal is to make a better life for her family. Nancy is good hearted, although slightly out of touch, and she wants the same for her family. The two women develop a complex relationship which never quite solidifies due to the differences in their backgrounds and positions.
Ms. Loomer has written a humorous and meaningful piece. She compares and contrasts her two principle characters in a very imaginative way. Her dialogue is fresh and real. The script is smartly written with characters that are fully formed.
Round House’s cast is incredibly effective in bringing Loomer’s words to life. Joselin Reyes is the perfect Ana. Hers is a very subtle yet compelling performance. She uses her voice and body well. Even the slightest nuance in her delivery tells the audience exactly who Ana is. Holly Twyford is equally impressive as Nancy. She does a wonderful job of conveying a new mother’s fear while exhibiting a slight superiority to her economically challenged employee.
The remaining cast is simply excellent and they are guided well by director Wendy C. Goldberg. Chandler Vinton is wonderfully over the top as the ultra-snobby Wallace Breyer. Susan Lynskey is her fellow gossip, Linda Billings Farzam. Ms. Lynskey is simply hilarious, and the two actresses work very well together. Socorro Santiago provides several highlights in the show. As the nanny Zoila, Ms. Santiago steals the spotlight with her wonderful timing and deadpan delivery. One must also not forget David Fendig’s portrayal of Nancy’s husband Richard. Fendig’s Richard is a touch nerdy but very likable.
Living Out is not all laughs. It offers much to ponder as it looks at the importance society places on class, money and family. There are many serious issues that come up in this play that would best be described as a dramedy.
The show plays out on a wonderful set designed by James Kronzer. He makes good use of Round House’s space, employing a rotating set that morphs from a kitchen to a park in just seconds. Lighting by Daniel MacLean Wagner adds depth to the picture. Additionally, the costumes by Anne M. Kennedy work very well in shaping each character.
Round House has gotten its season off to a strong start with Living Out, which runs through October 10 at their Bethesda location. Lisa Loomer has managed to address some serious topics without making the piece feel too heavy. Ultimately, Living Out is an extremely entertaining play.
Round House Theatre
Ana Hernandez: Joselin Reyes