Reviewer: Kristine Gotham
Venue: Pit and Balcony Theatre
Pit and Balcony Theatre opened the final show if their 91st season last evening, with a powerful and emotionally charged performance of Theresa Rebeck’s two-act play, Sunday on the Rocks. The play was presented in Black Box format, seating the audience directly on the stage, within a few feet of the actors. It felt as if one was a fly on the wall, intimately observing the characters as they moved through their daily activities, unobserved but impacted by the emotions coming from the characters.
The story revolves around four roommates, their life circumstances and beliefs, in New England in 1995. Elly (Amy Spadafore) has recently found out that she is pregnant. She decides that the best way to process this information is to drink scotch for breakfast on a nondescript Sunday morning. Her reasoning, famous authors do it, right? Roommate Gayle (Katie Short), joins Elly. Gayle questions Elly’s choice of breakfast but after a discussion of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s at brunch, she decides to join Elly with a drink of her own. Roommate Jen (Zoey Scwab) soon joins the party. As the three ladies continue to drink, they talk with one another about the fourth roommate, Jessica (Annie Gower). Jessica is out for the day with her boyfriend. They are going to church and then for a drive in the country. Elly comments that it is the “perfect day” for the “perfect couple”. Elly in particular has a great amount of animosity toward Jessica. She feels that Jessica looks down on her from a place of moral superiority. To Elly, Jessica would never find herself in Elly’s position, pregnant and planning to get an abortion. The three roommates continue to drink and reveal things that they have done in their past that Jessica certainly would not approve. There is a spiteful attitude among the three as they continue to drink and smoke, certain that Jessica would be angry if she knew. Jessica arrives home to find her three roommates drunk, and the house in total disarray. Gayle and Jen are quick to move to clean up the mess, but Elly is deliberately not, to annoy Jessica. Jessica attempts to guide Jen, to help her with a situation she is having with someone from work. Elly is infuriated by what she considers Jessica’s interference. As the evening progresses, Elly becomes more angry with Jessica and her involvement. She feels that Jessica has no right to poke her nose into a situation that she has no knowledge of herself. The situation between Elly and Jessica comes to a head with a physical confrontation between the two. Jessica decides to leave the house for the night even though Elly has come to her right mind and apologized for her behavior. The play ends with the three roommates deciding that they need to move out of Jessica’s house and get a job that pays real money so they can get an apartment and pay real rent.
This play could have happened in any year. The issue of an unexpected pregnancy and what to do about it are not new, although the options have changed over the years. Roommates will always have personality differences and there will be conflicts. What made this play so powerful wasn’t the dialog but the acting..Amy Spadafore’s Elly was intense, and angry, and scared all at the same time. You could feel the anger and frustration when she cried out that of course her boyfriend didn’t care about an abortion because it didn’t affect him, it wasn’t his body that would be changing. He could walk away and nothing would change, for him. Katie Short’s depiction of Gayle was one of someone who had been through some things in her life that she wasn’t proud of and she was determined to put them behind her. She was calm and understanding, knowing that everyone makes mistakes that they have to live with. Zoey Scwab played Jen perfectly. She was young and carefree, not invested too much because it would only mean more to lose. Jessica (Annie Gower) was quiet, the mother hen of the bunch. Each actor fed off the others, accepting and reflecting emotions that lent a reality to the play.
Hats off to all those who worked behind the scenes to bring this play to life. The set was designed to show two different living areas, inside and also outside on the porch. The lighting took the action from daytime into the evening when the room was lit by lamplight. The costumes were appropriate for the time and action of the play. There were a couple of instances when it was hard to hear the actors because they were turned away from the stage area but otherwise the overall sound levels were good and the sound effects fit nicely.
This play is one you don’t want to miss. There is drama, there is comedy, it is thought provoking and emotional. You have two more chances to be a part of the audience. Call Pit & Balcony Theatre Box Office for tickets.