EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
Below are excerpts from the November 1, 2016 DC Theatre Scene review of The Roommate.
Enter your 50s and you become invisible. People look right through 50-something women as if you are not there; waiters ignore you and bartenders don’t flirt with you; store personnel stare right past you to wait on the pretty young things.
This invisibility can be particularly bewildering for mothers and wives who gave years of their lives to children and spouses, only to find themselves without a role and purpose as the hours tick by in silent, empty houses.
Playwright Jen Silverman brings humor and a wicked sense of anarchic fun to “the invisible age” with The Roommate, directed with relish by Johanna Gruenhut for Everyman Theatre.
A depressing scenario, for sure, especially if you are living it. But playwright Jen Silverman brings humor and a wicked sense of anarchic fun to “the invisible age” with The Roommate, directed with relish by Johanna Gruenhut for Everyman Theatre.
Silverman and Gruenhut are partners in crime in bringing to crackling life this story of women coming of age when they are supposed to be past their prime.
We first meet Sharon (Deborah Hazlett) in her country kitchen (kudos to set designer Timothy R. Mackabee for the homespun, familiar set of rooster knickknacks, ruffled curtains, cozy wallpaper and refrigerator magnets) in a barn jacket and khakis, looking like an Iowa version of Martha Stewart. She’s a hardcore people-pleaser, chatty and over-eager as she welcomes roommate Robyn (Beth Hylton) into her home.
Sharon makes casseroles and goes to book club. Robyn smokes pot, plays Patti Smith at high volume and is a lesbian vegan slam poet. Her exotic presence—and dogged mysteriousness—sparks something in Sharon. She starts to re-imagine herself, take risks, and challenge her conventional view of herself.
I mean, if you are going to be invisible, why not take advantage of it? The naughty dynamic in The Roommate kind of reminds you of that episode of the Netflix TV series Grace and Frankiewhere Lily Tomlin’s character shoplifts a pack of cigarettes from a store because well, she can, since no one pays any attention to her.
[Hazlett] creates a character who is warmly maternal yet unpredictable and brave—someone you care deeply for and can’t take your eyes away from
You get concerned for Sharon, who goes off the rails in an effort to bring out her inner bad-ass. But then you realize that your unease is a tribute to Hazlett’s acting acumen, as she creates a character who is warmly maternal yet unpredictable and brave—someone you care deeply for and can’t take your eyes away from. And you feel her loneliness right down to your toes; that raw hunger for any type of connection and company.
The Roommate does not tie up everything neatly in the end, especially for Sharon, who is left literally and metaphorically holding the bag. Will she crawl back into her shell or keep shaking things up? Dangerous as it may seem, you root for Sharon raising her own kind of hell.