The Huntington Theatre Company
Calderwood Pavillion, South End
Through July 2
Reviewed by Bobby Franklin
Abby is living in an assisted living facility. She is cranky, miserable, and has driven out every roommate that has been paired with her. Marilyn, always upbeat with a sunny disposition, is her latest roommate. Abby wants her out and Marilyn will not leave. The two make a bet with the winner to get her way. This leads to the two of them doing some pretty nasty things to each other. Sounds like pretty depressing stuff? Well, it turns out this is one of the funniest plays you will ever see.
Nancy E. Carroll is perfect as the cantankerous, miserable, and at times cruel Abby who rarely betrays even a hint of a smile. She is also extremely funny. Annie Golden plays Marilyn who is a Pollyanna, always smiling and seeing the good in everything. Oh, she can play hard when it comes to fighting back against Abby. Both actors play off of each other perfectly. Add to the mix Scotty (Ugo Chukawa) a health aid and also an aspiring actor, who has to deal with these two terrors. Marilyn’s daughter Colleen (Laura Latreille) and son-in-law Derek (Richard Prioleau) are apples that haven’t fallen far from the tree and you end up with a fast paced work with impeccable comedic timing.
This production has added incidental music along with some very fun dance numbers during set changes. I have not seen Ripcord before but I am sure these additions only enhance it. At the performance I attended the audience loved these additions.
I don’t want to go on too much about what happens here as it will spoil the fun for those of you who decide to see it, and you definitely should head over to the Calderwood for this one. I will tease you a bit with a brief list of things that occur. There is a mugging by a very tall rabbit, a trip through a house of horrors, a skydiving adventure, and much, much more. It is amazing how these situations are staged. The set design, effects, and lighting are all incredible. By intermission youl will be wondering how much more could be left to surprise you. Believe me, there is plenty.
Ripcord, by David Lindsay-Abaire,and directed by the wonderful Jessica Stone, as well as being funny is also a deeply moving story about two women who are facing the challenges of growing old and dealing with their pasts. Under all of the laughter we are given much to ponder. There is a touching, sad, and even cruel scene where Abby meets her estranged son Benjamin (Eric T. Miller). Marilyn is also a much deeper character than she seems at first glance. There is pain under her happy exterior. It turns out the two women have a lot in common. Even with all of the laughter you will be deeply moved by this work. This really is, in the end, a very provocative piece that has us deal with what it is like to age and look back on our lives. It is told with, as I have said, much humor. But, it is a work filled with respect and understanding of these very difficult issues.
This has been a great theatre season in Boston. The Huntington, Lyric, and SpeakEasy have all treated us to some wonderful work these past months. Ripcord is a great way to cap this season. You will love this play! Don’t miss it.