Sunday, May 28, 2017

"The Roommate" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

"There's a great liberty in being bad."

That's the lasting quote from Jen Silverman's "The Roommate." It supposedly refers to one's first poem, but neither of the two women on stage is a poet. They just like being bad.

We love this show. "The Roommate" requires two major-league actresses to pull it off and they've got 'em. Susi Damilano plays Sharon, the Iowa housewife whose naivete surprises and intrigues Robyn (Julia Brothers), the Bronx hustler who has come to share Sharon's Iowa City apartment. We don't know why Robyn has come to the Midwest, but from the start it is clear she has way too many secrets.

We can't say enough for Damilano. She infuses Sharon with innocence and humor, as we watch her become more and more attracted to Robyn's dark side. Robyn, meanwhile, understands the price you pay when you give in to your baser instincts. She walks the line. On one hand, she truly loves being a thief. She glows when she ultimately begins to describe her scams to Robyn. On the other hand, she has come to care for Sharon and doesn't want to be the agent of her descent. Both Damilano and Brothers are perfect. They make us wish this were a pilot of a new cable show, so we could look forward to the next thirteen weeks.

Theodore J.H. Hulsker's sound is another plus. Not at all what you'd expect, we get both vocal and instrumental pastiches that blend well with Sharon's emotions. Nicely done.

RATINGS ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Both ranking members of the San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division went ga-ga over this show. A FOUR STAR rating is the result. Damilano and Brothers earn one star each, plus one star for Becca Wolff's flawless direction and Silverman's story filled with growth and surprises. Special mention for the scene with the gun.

"The Roommate"
San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post Street, San Francisco
2d Floor of the Kensington Park Hotel
Through July 1

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