Written by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Jessica Stone
Scenic design: Tobin Ost; Costume design, Gabriel Barry; Lighting design, David Weiner; Sound design and original music, Mark Bennett; Projection design, Lucy Mackinnon; Casting, Alaine Alldaffer; Production stage manager, Emily F. Mc Mullen; Stage manager, Kevin Schlagle; Scenic design, Tobin Ost; Costume design, Gabriel Barry; Lighting design, David Weiner; Sound design and original music, Mark Bennett; Projection design, Lucy Mackinnon; Casting, Alaine Alldaffer; Production stage manager, Emily F. Mc Mullen; Stage manager, Kevin Schlagle
At Calderwood Pavilion, Viginia Wimberly Theater, Boston Center for the Arts, May 26-July 2, 2017 Tickets start at $25, 617-266-0800; www.huntingtontheatre.org
Most people don’t need to be thrown out of an airplane to get the message to wake up and smell the roses. That’s one of the messages of the aptly named play called “Ripcord” playing at the Calderwood Pavilion.
It’s a froth of a play, an insanely comic piece occasionally leavened with a tug at the heart, and is a superb tonic for escaping the lousy news that abounds these days.
In 90 minutes, the president might have tweeted, the Russians may have intruded, and someone in public office might have done something inexcusably stupid.
Watching Nancy E. Carroll as cranky Abby and Annie Golden as ditzy Marilyn take galomping chomps out of their roles as water and oil roommates in an assisted living facility will have rendered those things null and void while you’re totally engrossed with the antics of those two and the supporting roles of the cast.
Delivering dark humor, sarcastic, even abrasive humor and having it come off as laugh-out-loud funny is not easy. For this, Nancy E. Carroll is the queen of local actors.
Carroll plays the role up to the hilt in her dealings with her roommate Marilyn, another damaged soul, whose armor is a bulletproof sense of goofy sunshine, oodles of thoughtfulness, and kindness as deep as the Grand Canyon.
The whole play revolves around a bet, cleverly devised by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, to determine who gets the bed by the window that has a view of the outside world and sunshine, both of which are devoid in their lives.
The subplots are fabulously abetted by the performances of a supporting cast who earn their stripes by holding their own with the two heavyweights. Ugo Chukwu as the room attendant, Scotty, is a standout.
The scenes showing the ploys each woman thinks up to win the bet are outlandishly creative. Director Jessica Stone, along with the scenic, costume, lighting, sound, and music design directors, must have had a field day fleshing out schemes in which the imaginative Marilyn tries to win the bet.
Not wanting to spoil the fun, I will only say that this is where the ripcord comes in. One brief moment of pathos in another vignette is a key to the final scenes.
You know there has to be a back-story that led these two women to become the characters they are and end up in an assisted living facility. David Lindsay-Abaire’s strategy of unpacking their stories ever so slowly is ever so satisfying.
Oh, one last thing. The devices that director Stone uses to segue from one scene to the next in this two-act play are the most surprising and hilarious I’ve ever seen. There’s choreography and music involved and is so good that I don’t want to spoil it for you.
"Ripcord" is a satisfying night at the theater. I guarantee you’ll have a soft and safe landing.
Photo courtesy of Huntington Theater