Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The story is set in Iowa City, Iowa. The first half is like a female version of The Odd Couple and it is played for laughs; the second half is like a version of "Breaking Bad." These are two women from vastly different backgrounds. Sharon (Susi Damilano) is a divorced woman who is practical, an empty-nester, inquisitive, and very garrulous. At age 54 she takes in a roommate to make ends meet. The roommate is Robyn (Julia Brothers), a recent transplant from the Bronx who couldn't be Sharon's more erratic opposite. She is a gay, vegan slam poet who smokes cigarettes (including the "funny kind") and obliquely claims she moved to Iowa to grow things. She has other secrets which she does not reveal until well into the play.
Eventually, Robyn confesses to grifting and phone scams in her past. After her intimal surprise, Sharon tries her hand at some phone scams on the ladies in her book club. She turns out to pretty good at scams, which surprises even Robyn, and an unpredictable relationship develops between the two women. Robyn doesn't want it. It ends up a bittersweet comedy drama.
Under the brilliant direction of Becca Wolff, Susi Damilano and Julia Brothers deliver superb and engaging performances emphasizing the acute intelligence the author uses to chart this passage of self-transformation.
Bottom Line: It's sort of an introspective Thelma and Louise-like a tale set in Iowa. These two wonderful veteran actresses kept me absorbed for 90 minutes.
The Roommate runs through July 1, 2017, at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street, San Francisco, 2nd Floor of the Kensington Park Hotel just off Union Square, San Francisco. For tickets or more information contact the box office at 415-677-9596 or visit www.sfplayhouse.org. Coming up in their Sandbox Series is the world premiere of Christopher Chen's You Mean to Do Me Harm at ACT's Strand Theatre June 6 - July 1, then Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's La Cage aux Folles running July 12 - September 16.