Opening this weekend, a two-hander play called “The Roommate” set in a cluttered kitchen explores the witty verisimilitude of a pair of middle-aged women.
“I guess everybody wants to start over. Just burn it all down and start over.” – Sharon
A comedy that revs into a drama written by Jen Silverman and originally published in 2017, “The Roommate” is the third installment in Theatre B’s season 17 starring Carrie Wintersteen and Pam Strait.
“Both of the characters are trying to start anew. They’re trying to live their lives in a different way,” says Director Jon Micheels Leiseth. “They both make choices that have consequences.”
He goes on to say, “Something that attracted me to the story right away was that these are middle-aged characters, and I’m a middle-aged person as well. There is something about having lived life long enough that one has lived into choices, whether it’s about career, community or relationships. Or, all of the above and then some.”
Sharon, in her mid-fifties, is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-fifties, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely.
“You wake up some days and realize, I made these choices and those are other choices that I could have made,” Leiseth says. “Both of these characters do that in a different way, what I’m encouraged by from both of them is they make choices. They dive in and they’re courageous and they try things. It’s pretty easy to just live a static life and not dive.”
Before the play even begins, the set hints at a mundane yet shaken-up setting. Coffee mugs, ceramic ducks and homey furnishings give way to packing boxes – the first signs of newly acquired clutter.
“We had to furnish and populate a kitchen with a multitude of kitchen tools, decorations, and edible food,” says Monika Browne-Ecker, properties designer for “The Roommate.” They couldn’t be just any kitchen tools – they had to be the kitchen tools that Sharon in Iowa City would have had. I also needed to provide edible props for a month of the show run, fistfuls of fake IDs, a portable dispensary, and about 80 clay dolls. 80 clay dolls that had to be designed in a very specific way (South America and voo doo-ish look), and made from scratch! ”
A closer look at the poster for this production reveals an unusual spin on an otherwise typically domestic imagery. The hints are dropped subtly before smacking the audience in the face.
“Once the show starts, Carrie and Pam will take everyone on an incredible ride,” says Monika. “The set, props, lights, and sound are all great in this show, but what you really want to pay attention to is this masterclass in acting and storytelling from the two amazing performers.”
Read the full Q&A with Monika in “Meet the Artists” on Theatre B’s blog.
Opening weekend of The Roommate (Feb. 7 & 8) patrons can choose between $5 up to $50 per ticket.
BOGO tickets available on February 13.
Get your tickets online or at the door.