EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the October 31, 2016 DC Metro Theater Arts review of The Roommate.
Deborah Hazlett and Beth Hylton are both very talented actors. Deborah Hazlett and Beth Hylton together onstage in Jen Silverman’s new two-woman show is something truly remarkable!
Deborah Hazlett, splendid in the role of Sharon, is now in her 20th season as a Resident Company Member with Everyman. Hazlett, unlike her character, seems to be in a situation that suits her very well. Poor Sharon, however, is boxed-in. Hazlett adeptly uses her physicality and voice to underscore how confining Sharon’s life is. You can see it in the way she presses her knees and ankles together when she sits. It’s evident in her posture and how, in an understated Midwestern accent, Hazlett delivers her plainspoken, no-nonsense lines with such buttoned-up sincerity it is comical. Her performance, particularly her comedic timing, is pitch-perfect.
Deborah Hazlett, splendid in the role of Sharon... Her performance, particularly her comedic timing, is pitch-perfect.
The always-fantastic Beth Hylton plays Robyn. Physically the opposite of Sharon, Hylton’s Robyn moves with lithe self-assurance and requires no permission to occupy space. She sits on the counter; she sprawls at the kitchen table, one booted leg propped up on the dining surface as she slides into a comfortable slouch in the chair. Her unaccented speech is perfect for someone who has traveled a lot and needed to fit right in. Hylton skillfully captures the nuances of a woman who is confident in her skills and talents but, at the same time, is ready to move on and explore different facets of herself. In an outstanding performance, Hylton brings Robyn to life.
The Artistic and Creative team that designed this production created a physical world for the actors that felt seamless and real. Scenic Designer Timothy R. Mackabee used the full width of the theater to create the house in which Sharon and Robyn reside. The level of detail was impressive. Working with Properties Master Jillian Mathews, Mackabee’s set felt as if someone had simply removed a wall of a real home so we could see inside. A purse hung from a hook inside the front door. There were scores of little magnets on refrigerator. Even the living room, a space seen only through an archway and never used by the characters, was completely and realistically adorned. The sun shone through a tall curtained window; a floor lamp, magazine rack, and end-table sat next to a comfy couch.
The Roommate is a response to the lack of representation playwright Jen Silverman has observed in American theater; one that she wants to help remedy. Silverman has stated, “As women, once you’re out of your 30s, in this particular society in America, you become slightly invisible… So I really wanted to write a play for badass women in their 50s.”
Everyman’s Founding Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi, a man with a demonstrated commitment to supporting works by and about women, saw the show last year at Humana Festival. In his program note, Lancisi applauds Silverman for writing “a play for actresses in this stage of life. [It’s] a play that has something to say and a unique vantage point – and it’s brilliantly funny to boot.” He continues, “I knew it was something that we just had to produce.”
The Roommate is a production not to be missed.
The Roommate, now at Everyman Theatre, is a bold new play by one of the most dynamic emerging playwrights on the scene today. Under the direction of Everyman’s Artistic Associate, Johanna Gruenhut, Resident Company Members Deborah Hazlett and Beth Hylton deliver exceptional performances that hit every comedic high note while conveying important thoughts about reinvention, resilience, and the elasticity of identity. The Roommate is a production not to be missed.