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Review: Best Medicine Rep's THE TRIP a Wonderful Way to Say Goodbye to Summer

Best Medicine Rep Theater is offering a lovely remedy for the post-Summer Blues, with their production of Crystal V. Rhodes' "The Trip."

Review: Best Medicine Rep's THE TRIP a Wonderful Way to Say Goodbye to Summer

Perhaps it's a bit early to be all wistful about the passing of Summer-although by now it is history for this year. But it's always fun to look back at those road trips you took with your friends, and reflect on all the misadventures along the way.

Best Medicine Rep Theater is offering a lovely remedy for the post-Summer Blues, with their production of Crystal V. Rhodes' "The Trip." Yvonne Paretzky has assembled a crack cast, and directed them to a briskly-paced evening of entertainment.

Set in Rhodes' native Chicago, the play follows four childhood friends as they wend their way along the interstates from the Midwest to that most famous of destinations, Los Angeles. The kind of road trip that so many of us have such fond memories of, with our own friends, marking indelibly the great milestones of our lives.

There is, of course, a twist or two along the way for this one; trust and friendships are profoundly broken, and it isn't entirely clear whether these four women will ever get to LA-or whether, once there, they can actually stand to be anywhere near each other.

Rhodes shows us two trips, taken 20 years apart-the first happens as these friends approach their 30th birthdays, while the second trip sees them hit the road 20 years later (you do the numbers, we middle-aged folk try not to think about them too much).

The characters are indelibly drawn, and so vividly performed you'd swear you've overheard them at the coffee shop down the block. As Victoria, the cigarette-puffing acid wit of the group, Dr. Devin Nikki Thomas delivers one-liners as sharp as a razor. So sharp, that when she pauses, you know she's just re-loading.

Jacqueline Youm, meanwhile, offers us Jo Anne, the bold and brassy social climber (on trip #1) brought down hard by reality, who has to decide whether and how to handle a profound betrayal (by trip #2).

Jo Anne's good friend and sometime nemesis, Nikki, is played with an unnerving passive-aggressive demeanor by Erica Irving. Her shy and retiring act hides a world of ambition and recklessness, the full scope of which isn't revealed until well into the later trip.

Meanwhile, trying to keep the tenuous bonds of friendship intact, Hana Clarice's Ginny is the glue that holds the group together. Clarice avoids the overly perky demeanor of the optimist, and makes it possible for this fractious group to not just reconcile, but recommit to mutual support in response to a pressing crisis in one friend's life.

Best Medicine's simple, black-box space at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg is decked with John Morogiello's scenic and projection design, with a hip, era-appropriate sound track to set each scene (even when, on the first trip, it turns out that the car is tragically bereft of a working radio).

Once the show gets out of Chicago, so to speak, Rhodes' dialogue is sharp and flows with ease; the opening moments, however, seem heavy with explicit exposition, of the kind that might be best avoided or referred to more obliquely-the show would benefit greatly from a slight revision that invites audiences to do a bit more brain-work. Let us figure out how these friendships were first formed through hints dropped here and there, no need to tell us up front.

A special note: the Lakeforest Mall theater space is soon to be redeveloped, and Best Medicine is now looking for a new home in suburban Maryland. They welcome suggestions for where to create their upcoming season, which promises to be a true whirlwind of readings and full productions. Contact them at bestmedicinerep@gmail.com.

Production Photo, from left to right and front to back: Ginny (Hana Clarice), Victoria (Devin Nikki Thomas), Joanne (Jacqueline Youm), and Nikki (Erica Irving). Photo by Elizabeth Kemmerer.

The Trip plays through October 2 at the Lakeforest Mall (near the Yellow Sun entrance, just to the left of Macy's). For tickets and information about upcoming events, please visit:

https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2196335®id=14&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestmedicinerep.org%2F?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1

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From This Author - Andrew White


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