Arts theater review

Setting boundaries and breaking laws

So you think your roommate is bad?

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Sharon (Paula Plum) and Robyn (Adrianne Krstansky) stay up chatting in the play 'The Roommate.'
Courtesy of Lyric Stage

The Roommate
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
By Jen Silverman
Lyric Stage
Oct. 19–Nov. 18

What happens when a retired housewife and a woman running from her dark past end up sharing a house together? They learn to become comfortable with each other. One learns to live life to the fullest. The other learns to forgive herself for her past actions. And the two of them sell weed.

The Lyric Stage puts on yet another lovely play — this time, we see Adrianne Krstansky and Paula Plum in The Roommate. A mother with empty nest syndrome, Plum captures the loneliness of every middle-aged woman with grace, as Sharon. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Krstansky plays the calm and collected Robyn, a woman hoping to start anew in Iowa. Set somewhere in Iowa, the play follows Sharon as she slowly discovers how little she knows about her mysterious roommate and about herself.

This play about mothers is  for anyone frustrated with where they are in life. Sharon’s life became boring after her son moved away. Like most mothers, she spends her days wondering how her son is doing and trying her best to live her own life. Plum showcases a lovable anxiousness trying (and failing) to not call her son. The energy that Plum so naturally possesses comes in such great abundance that it’s easy to fall in love with her. She bubbles with enthusiasm over the prospect of having Robyn in her life.

No one ever expected her to become the marijuana kingpin that she is later in the play. It was a delightful experience watching Sharon slowly let down her walls. Robyn pushes her roommate to be uncomfortable. In the process, Sharon starts living the life she’s always wanted as a younger woman. That said, though, Krstansky’s performance also deserves merit: whereas her co-star wears her heart on her sleeve, Krstansky’s character holds onto a sorrowful past. The quiet moments drew me in. They exposed a woman desperately trying to discover herself again. Her attempts, her desire to absolve herself, translate themselves easily with the help of a good performer.

The Lyric Stage’s production crew shows just how versatile they are once again. The stage is a cozy Midwestern kitchen stocked with all the typical amenities: kitschy decorations, nice wood paneling, and warm lighting. Somehow, simplicity made the play down-to-earth. This isn’t some random cottage in America; it’s your mom’s kitchen. The Roommate thrives best when it’s just the two women spending downtime with each other. Krstansky and Plum steal your heart when they chat — about nothing and about everything.

This is a play that hits close to home (quite literally!). It’ll make you think about calling your Mom every now and then. It’s a comedy about the insanities of motherhood. Other times, it’s a tragedy set in the vacuum known as the Midwest. For a play about two women being friends with each other, The Roommate is a wonderful way to learn how to live life to the fullest, now rather than later.