WHAT Long Island premiere of “Ripcord”
WHEN | WHERE Through May 13. Upcoming: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Bare Bones Theater, 57 Main St., Northport
TICKETS $25, $20 students; 631-606-0026, barebonestheater.com
“Ripcord,” the 2015 Broadway comedy by Pulitzer-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”) makes its Long Island premiere at Bare Bones Theater in a space that few assisted-living residents would attempt to climb.
The author’s work has ranged from tragedy to farce, and “Ripcord’ — we won’t disclose the scene that suggests the play’s title — falls somewhere in the middle, as a pair of mismatched seniors could be characters in a 25-years-later sequel to “The Odd Couple” female version. But their relationship is more in-your-face, as the women with still-lingering pasts can’t get out of each other’s way.
Abby, portrayed by Judy Rovinsky McCormick with a wickedly wry and misanthropic sense of humor, thinks age entitles her. As we learn from Scotty, a Bristol Place Senior Living Facility attendant — disarmingly cheerful as played by Steve Clark — Abby has driven each previous roommate out of “her” room. But this time she’s matched with an equally willful adversary of a polar-opposite temperament. Marilyn is a glass-overflowing type as opposed to Abby’s glass-bone-dry. (Medication has robbed Abby of her taste buds. Even her favorite, peach cobbler, might just as well be sawdust.) Played by Lisa Meckes with an unflappably sunny disposition that makes you suspect her character is delusional, Marilyn gets on Abby’s nerves instantly and constantly. The two widows, each determined to get their way, propose a bet: If Abby can make Marilyn angry, she’ll find another room. If Marilyn can scare Abby, she’ll claim Abby’s bed next to the window with a view.
Marilyn deploys her daughter (Karen Ferrara) and son-in-law (Tim Dolan) in the scheme, while Abby works solo, being estranged from her son (Scott McIntyre) who makes a late appearance in a trick Marilyn plays on her. All three of the younger generation double as funhouse spooks and/or flight attendants, of sorts. (Don’t ask: It would spoil the gag.)
Lynn Antunovich directs the comic proceedings at a brisk and well-timed pace, except for in-the-dark set changes that take us off the assisted-living premises (Jodi McIntyre’s adaptable design). These widows get around in a scenario that’s at once predictable and surprising. You suspect what’s coming next but not necessarily from which direction.
Seniors who might be attracted to “Ripcord” should know that the theater space is three flights up, no elevator. But you can pause on the second floor, where there are sofas outside the box office.