by Shirley Lorraine
The Roommate Delivers at SPTC
Be careful what you ask for. You will probably get much more than you bargained for. This is the basis of what happens in The Roommate, a multi-layered play of possibilities written by Jen Silverman now playing at the Santa Paula Theater Center through June 26.
Cynthia Killion fills the role of Sharon, a middle-aged divorcee whose hum-drum existence in Iowa City is in dire need of refurbishment. Her advertisement for a roommate is answered by Robyn, played by Kathleen Bosworth. The two couldn’t be more different. Their lifestyles are polar opposites. And the excitement begins as they learn about each other and settle into new routines.
Sharon spends her days in an empty-nest fog, not really recognizing some realities about her life. Robyn has apparently come to Iowa to shed one lifestyle and try another, but Sharon’s relentless inquiries force her to grapple with her own realities Sharon, a “retired” housewife and mother takes each day as routine, brews the coffee, goes to her reading group. Robyn is a former scam artist, mother, vegan and pot-smoking lesbian. Despite their many differences, they find they actually have quite a bit in common at the core.
The play is hilariously blunt in its middle-class familiarity. Conversations begin the way many of our own do, then take a wild turn. Silverman’s dialogue is brilliant as the ladies’ lines mirror many of our own inner thoughts. We wonder about many things but often don’t verbalize them. Sharon and Robyn, however, do not hold back.
They are frank, revealing and surprising as both women come to realizations about themselves as their unlikely friendship develops. Both the characters are beautifully developed and masterfully delivered Killion and Bosworth. The result is a delightful, laugh-filled evening of satisfying theater.
The play is directed by Taylor Kasch, who no doubt had his hands full guiding and polishing these two accomplished actors. Set designer Mike Carnahan created a lovely tract home interior kitchen setting that is quite detailed, complete with luscious landscaping outside the double doors to the patio. I would live there!
Presented without intermission, even the scene changes and resulting actions glimpsed by diminished lighting add tremendously to the continuity. The actors tidy their table, pour their coffee, continue with the daily minutiae of life and move forward as we all do, often on autopilot. Life goes on, even as its trajectory changes, sometimes drastically.
To reveal more would be a great disservice. Audiences will need to discover for themselves how these two women adjust, cope and triumph. The journey is well worth the wait.
Covid precautions are still in place. Masks are optional and vaccination status is required. The night I attended there were plenty of seats to facilitate distancing, but this play deserves a full house so be prepared to comply for everyone’s comfort and safety.