BWW Review: RIPCORD by David Lindsay-Abaire is Whimsical, Touching, and Excellently Cast, at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
Is there anything that could possibly drag you out of your house when we're having weather like this? I can think of something worth putting on a hat and mittens and scraping ice off the car for, and it's happening at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through February 16th. It's called Ripcord, and it's one helluva romp by David Lindsay-Abaire. Do NOT let anything get in the way of your seeing this delightfully eccentric, utterly whimsical, and thoroughly touching play.
David Lindsay-Abaire (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Rabbit Hole in 2007) is a dexterous and capricious playwright whose plays propelled Cynthia Nixon and Frances McDormand to Best Actress Tonys. Though his plays can be stylistically erratic, he consistently strikes just the right balance between humor and grief. Not afraid to delve into the tragic, such as the loss of a child, he is equally as bold when it comes to the absurd, betraying his roots as student to Marsha Norman and Christopher Durang.
His play, Ripcord, opened Off-Broadway in 2015 and is an examination of the relationship between two residents in a retirement home who could not be more different from one another. Abby is withdrawn, cranky, and (until now) enjoys her solitude. Marilyn is happy-go-lucky and LOVES to talk. Forced to room together, Abby and Marilyn slug it out "Odd Couple" style, but instead of just a series of harmless snafus, Marilyn and Abby become embroiled in an intense and hilarious competition where each caper tops the last.
Abaire's characters are so flawed, so lovable, and so completely human, that by the end of the play I felt myself tearing up at the possibility of having to say goodbye to one of them. The absurd situations that he puts these characters through had me tearing up from laughter.
The set, by Brian c. Mehring, perfectly evokes the drab and fluorescently-lit space these women must now inhabit with its generic furniture pieces and cold linoleum floor. When the characters venture out from this space, a screen is used to take us along to more interesting locales.
What really puts this play over the top is Meyers' excellent casting. Dale Hodges delivers a nuanced Abby, and Pamela Myers as Marilyn is simply effervescent from the moment she enters. The chemistry of the leads, along with the support of the terrific cast, makes Ripcord a delight to watch from beginning to end. As Meyers fittingly mentions in her director's notes, "If you have the right people in the room and a great script...the rest of a director's job is simply guidance...I am delighted with every converging aspect of Ripcord." You will be delighted, too.
Ripcord runs through Feb. 16 at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Go here for tickets and information.
Photo by Ryan Kurtz