Two women sharing a room in a nursing home. This isn’t precisely the type of description that would have me sprinting for the ticket window of a play. However, this is another quintessential “don’t judge a book by its cover” situation. I laughed, I choked up, I felt anger, and I shivered
from how cold the theater was: every human emotion.
Bringing the works of Pulitzer Prize-winners to the stage pushes Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati into the upper echelons of regional relevance. David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Ripcord” is deliciously dark and delightfully clever. It’s one of those great performances where no word said is unimportant. It’s an emotional slap-stick romp. Think: less physical violence, more emotional warfare.
The story centers on two women, Dale Hodges as Abby, and Pam Myers as Marilyn. They are bitter and dark and bright and cheery, respectively. Aged retirees forced to share a room, their oil-and-water personalities clash continuously. Let hijinks ensue. They actually remind me of my own grandma, Jo, who can be both of those personalities. However, instead of rivaling constantly with a roommate, she picks one of her five daughters on rotation to hold a grudge.
Thankfully, she doesn’t read my reviews.
The two women decide to make a bet on the future of their roommate-relationship. The bitter Abby desperately wants ebullient Marilyn out of the room. Marilyn wants the sun-soaked bed near the window. If Abby can make Marilyn mad, or Marilyn can scare Abby, the winner takes all. You’ll need to watch the play, but it’s an emotional rollercoaster.
Caught in the middle of the post-menopausal mayhem is Scotty the orderly. He just wants to take care of these two women, make their lives easier, and pursue his acting career. I sigh for simple dreams left unfulfilled. Hell hath no fury like a retired family-owned skydiving company office manager with an obsessive insistence on chutzpah.
This performance was a laugh-a-minute affair. I cannot recall a play where I laughed so unexpectedly. Dale Hodges, the bitterest woman alive as Abby, made me legitimately hate her. The depths of her cruelty startled me. Marilyn’s unflappable resolve deserved (and got) random smatterings of applause.
Ensemble does such a great job with casting, costumes, the stage, the lighting, and the overall experience. In the lobby is a spinning wheel with random dares for you to try. The one I got?
Hug the security guard. He’s a great embracer.
John David Back is a Cincinnati native who lives and works in OTR. He’s an avid reader and a mediocre writer who loves the experience of art and beauty. Tell him what he should experience and send fan mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.