Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


Photo by Mike Richardson

I am convinced local playwright Gretchen Suarez-Pena bugged my bedroom.

Gretchen's show was the debut of Powerstories Theatre Artistic Committee's decision to produce one local female playwright's work each season.

Conversations in Bed at Powerstories Theatre was like taking a tape recorder to the audience, myself included, and writing down the serious, heartfelt and other times furious and ridiculous conversations we've had with our significant others before putting our heads on the pillow. Oohs, ahhs, and groans from the audience - proving just how relatable the mingled storylines were - stayed as a backdrop throughout the run of the 90-minute show.

And laughter - in this fun, multi-cultural show, there was so much laughter.

Couples newlyweds Sione and Jasmine Ghazi (Francis Phimphivong and Karla Maiden-Vazquez), 30ish Marcos and Rachel Sanchez (Jorge Diaz and Hailey Fonte), 40-somethings Ramon and Angela Jackson (Michael Richardson and Kym Welch), and retirees Paul and Sherry Smith (Charles H. Reed and Michelle G. Ricca) were completely believable in the four stages of marriage.

The set beautifully designed by Devan Kelty revealed four different bedrooms and, honestly, I couldn't imagine how the show would work from beds, but work it did and absolutely perfect.

From a nympho newlywed ignored by her technology-immersed husband, a surprise pregnancy, a mid-life crisis and senior empty nesters dealing with a bombshell from their son, director Bridget Bean and this talented cast captured each facet of marriage exceptionally.

When Sione and Jasmine get the munchies (props to Rachel Tew's sound design), I think I laughed the loudest because, well, been there, done that. Jasmine's reaction to Sione's proposed number of children was absolutely priceless.

Now, let's talk about Jorge's dance moves and thunderous snores and Rachel's exhaustion, cravings, and manipulative tears. The two seemed genuinely like a couple struggling to keep the magic alive after two children. Marco had some of the funniest lines, especially his reaction to being correct: "I'm right. Wait... I'm right?"

Kym had the most contagious laugh and she didn't have to say a word to get a laugh from the audience. Her expression said it all. I don't think I will ever look at bananas the same way again thanks to the deadpan genius of Michael discussing the results of the "talk" with his teenage son. If you didn't know they were acting, their playful relationship was so comfortable it felt like they'd been a couple forever.

Speaking of forever, I hope my relationship in its senior years is as loving as what Charles and Michelle created. A couple that survived a tragedy and is forced to deal with their own biases rang true in every word. I laughed so hard at their cholesterol, chocolate and apple conversation because a similar one recently happened in my own household. The end to couple's romantic dance, though a tiny bit expected, was still absolutely heart-breaking.

Everything in this satisfying production had a sense of home, of deja vu. It didn't feel scripted.

I loved the way Gretchen's writing pulled each actor into the other's lives at the show's close, bringing the production full-circle.

Get your tickets for Conversations in Bed. Support a theatre supporting women playwrights and see for yourself how this cast perfectly reflects a real relationship, the highs and the lows, in all stages of marriage.

Related Articles View More Tampa/St. Petersburg Stories

From This Author - Deborah Bostock-Kelley