Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ripcord ***

Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire has a new addition to his long string of successes at Manhattan Theatre Club. His new comedy stars Marylouise Burke, his oft-time muse, and Holland Taylor (replacing the originally announced Mary Louise Wilson) as Marilyn and Abby, residents of the Bristol Place Assisted Living Facility. Over four years, the unfriendly secretive  Abby has driven away a long string of roommates by her acerbic personality. Her latest, Marilyn, drives her wild with her cheerful gregariousness. Marilyn is quite happy where she is and has no intention of leaving. The roommates make a secret bet: if Abby wins, Marilyn moves out; if Marilyn wins, she gets the bed by the window. The attempt to win leads the pair to increasingly outrageous and hilarious stunts. Marilyn enlists her daughter Cathleen (Rachel Dratch) and son-in-law Derek (Daoud Heidami) in her campaign. Scotty (Nate Miller), a good-natured attendant and would-be actor, tries unsuccessfully to keep the peace. The second act takes on a somewhat darker tone as the competition gets more personal and nastier. A new character, Benjamin (Glenn Fitzgerald) makes an appearance. The resolution was a bit disappointing, to me at least. Burke and Taylor are outstanding as the rival roommates. The supporting cast is strong too. The play resembles Lindsay-Abaire’s early playful works such as “Fuddy Mears” more than his more serious recent plays like “Good People.” David Hyde Pierce has a real knack for directing comedy. Alexander Dodge’s clever scenic design switches seamlessly between their shared room and a few other very different locations. Jennifer von Mayrhauser’s costumes are apt. All in all, it’s a very entertaining, but not very substantial work. Running time: two hours including intermission.

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