BWW Review: Senior Citizens Duke It Out in RIPCORD at Clackamas Repertory Theatre

BWW Review: Senior Citizens Duke It Out in RIPCORD at Clackamas Repertory Theatre

Picture it: Sicily, 1922. Oh, wait, wrong show.

Picture it: Bristol Place Senior Living Facility, modern day. Happy, never-angry Marilyn (Anita Sorel) moves into a shared room with grumpy, never-scared Abby (Randi Douglas). Marilyn wants the bed by the window; Abby wants the room to herself. So, they make a bet. If Abby can make Marilyn angry first, Marilyn will move to a recently vacated room on the first floor. If Marilyn scares Abby first, Marilyn stays and gets the bed with the view. This is the setup for David Lindsay-Abaire's RIPCORD, a The Odd Couple meets The Golden Girls comedy, now playing at Clackamas Rep.

RIPCORD is a definitely a madcap comedy, and a very funny one at that. But it has a dark side as well. Abby and Marilyn play a series of pranks on each other, and no one can accuse them of phoning it in. Beginning with true practical jokes, like putting an ad in Craigslist, the pranks escalate to invasive personal attacks, like contacting estranged relatives and digging up police reports. But even the most mean-spirited pranks hardly faze the women who, presumably, have dealt with so much in their 7+ decades that they've learned to shake off even the most painful things in life.

For Clackamas Rep's production, director David Smith-English chose to approach RIPCORD as a straight-up comedy, paying no mind to the disturbing themes (e.g., domestic violence, drug abuse, death) lurking beneath the surface. In large part, this approach is successful, though there are moments when the lightheartedness of the production is misaligned with the gravity of what is going on in the play.

These moments are amplified by uneven pacing because of the different levels of energy the two main actors bring to their roles. Sorel's Marilyn is full of life, while Douglas plays Abby as not only an incurable grump, but a tired one as well. I couldn't help feeling that if the characters weren't going to deal with their ghosts, then they should at least speed past them as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the supporting cast provides a big boost of positive energy, particularly James Sharinghousen as Scotty, an attendant at the senior living facility and aspiring actor.

A big highlight of this production is Christopher D. Whitten's magnificent moveable set. I don't want to give it all away, so I'll just say that the skydiving scene rocked!

Overall, I enjoyed RIPCORD. It provides many good laughs, and although you shouldn't expect any profound revelations, you don't have to look too hard to find a lesson in forgiveness.

RIPCORD runs through September 30. More details and tickets here.

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From This Author Krista Garver

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