BWW Review: 30 x Ninety's THE BOY IN THE BATHROOM
Great title for a show, right? It definitely had me intrigued from the start. When I walked into the 30 x Ninety's intimate little theater (which, by the way, has been souped up since last time I was there... raked seating and all) and saw the set, I had a feeling this wasn't going to be anything like what I was expecting. Honestly, I don't even know what I was expecting, but I could tell anything that I could've ever imagined to expect out of a play called THE BOY IN THE BATHROOM was the complete opposite of everything this show would be about. And, I was right.
So the set looked like this... picture a house with three walls and the fourth wall cut off - like in a 90s sitcom. On the left, there's a bathroom complete with shower, sink, toilet, towel rack, and all of the toiletries and such you could think of. On the bathroom's right side is a door that would lead into the hallway, and of course, on the right of the bathroom we actually see said hallway with a set of stairs leading down to a lower level of the stage. To the right of the hallway on the lower level is a small kitchen... cabinets, table and chairs, refrigerator, the works. This is the setting for the entire play. Small, intimate, intriguing, and old school. A nice change from the elaborate sets with moving pieces that so many theaters focus on nowadays. While that can work for some shows, THE BOY IN THE BATHROOM does not require pomp and circumstance, but rather a setting where the actors can be vulnerable to the audience and the audience to the actors.
Ok, but what is the show actually ABOUT? THE BOY IN THE BATHROOM revolves around a young man named David, his mother Pam, and Julie the young girl who frees him. David, for the past several years, has literally lived every single day in the bathroom. He doesn't leave, and no one else goes in. Everything, including food, is passed under the door to him. The only interaction he has is with his mother and with Julie once she starts coming around. Over the course of the play, we find out that David has a very severe case of OCD. He feels as though the air outside of the bathroom will either contaminate him or that he will contaminate it. For some reason, the bathroom is safe to him. Because of his condition and because of what we learn about David's family history, he had to drop out of college where he was majoring in philosophy, but he is still working on his thesis... although, he doesn't know what his thesis is actually about. Julie comes to their home when his mother has a terrible fall and breaks her hip to help take care of her, but instead winds up befriending David, even falling in love with him, from outside the bathroom door. She talks to him, plays games with him, and helps him to deal with some of the issues that have been - literally and figuratively - been keeping him locked up for so long. Julie is finally ready to get out of town and wants David to go with her, but when she realizes he may never be ready to leave his self-inflicted prison she goes without him. Eventually, David finds it in himself, all because of Julie, to break free from the bathroom walls and to "walk on the moon."
It's quite a weird and quite a beautiful story all rolled into one. More than anything, I think it's an important story. Just like more popular musicals, NEXT TO NORMAL and the more recent DEAR EVAN HANSEN, THE BOY IN THE BATHROOM takes a close look at the reality (and sometimes ugly truth) of living with a mental disorder and how it affects not only the individual with the disorder, but everyone in that person's life. While David's disorder is pretty extreme and extremely heartbreaking, the whole show isn't a downer. If you're going to show the reality of OCD, the good comes with the bad too, right? David has some amazing qualities that Julie sees in him such as kindness, compassion, intelligence, humor, and creativity. There are moments in the play, like a game of truth or dare that leaves both Julie and David shirtless or the two of them sharing a beer, that give you a glimpse into what life could be like if they were on the same side of the door. There's a good side and a not so good side to every situation. There are ups and downs in all of our lives. And I am grateful to this play for sharing that.
The cast of this show was awesome! Brent Goodrich (David) did an incredible job of opening himself up to the audience in a most vulnerable way. Calla Harper (Julie) brought humor and light into the story in the most realistic way possible. And, Lori Molinary (Pam) gave a very emotional and powerful performance as David's concerned, angry, and also OCD mother. Bravo for tackling this content and presenting it in a way that left audiences talking.
Next up for 30 x Ninety Theatre is BABES IN TOYLAND THE MUSICAL. I can't wait for you all to get to this quiet little theatre that is taking the Northshore by storm and experience their next piece! Visit http://www.30byninety.com for more information.