Quotidian Theatre Company kicks off its 2016 season, and its participation in the Washington, DC Women’s Voices Theater Festival, with the beautiful world premiere of playwright Audrey Cefaly’s newest work, Maytag Virgin.
The play, set in the small fictional town of Lenoraville, Alabama over the course of a year, tells the story of Elizabeth Nash, a recently widowed high school English teacher struggling with loneliness and a secret longing for an honest relationship she’s only dreamed of. Enter Jack Key, the down-to-earth, sweet-talking Physics teacher and new neighbor from Biloxi who struggles with his own loneliness and secrets. A few shared Cokes, laundry hangings, and porch heart-to-hearts later, Lizzy and Jack find something in each other they cannot ignore, drawing them closer and threatening to unravel the apathy and complacency they’ve both come to depend on. The play ultimately explores what do we do when the world— life and death— is just unfair?
Cefaly’s writing is richly-layered, creating compelling characters that must balance love and heartache, the safe with the unfamiliar. Her deft directing style focuses on the intimate connections within her own character-driven narrative, propelling the action with beautiful pacing and heartwarming comedy.
Bringing Cefaly’s heartbreaking “broken” characters to vibrant life are actors Will Hardy and Gillian Shelly. Both actors give performances thoroughly imbued with Southern charm, coloring the world of the play even in moments of poignant silence. Hardy brings a rough edge to Jack, countered by Shelly’s prattling but earnest Lizzy. While the first act mainly deals with exposition, the second act turns up the heat and leads both actors on an exciting and honest journey of self-discovery, culminating in a deeply moving final scene that highlighted both actors arcs and depth.
The attention to detail in the set and writing is particularly notable, with an intricate two-porch set design by Scott Hengen that perfectly captures eccentric Alabama lawns. Cefaly also acted as costume designer, adding practical and at times appropriately quirky outfits. The warm summer nights are evoked with beautiful porch lighting by Lighting Designer Don Slater, who also delivers deft scene changes from midnight excursions to morning hangovers. Also notable is Sound Design by Ed Moser, eliciting the sweet harmonica blues of Alabama to compliment the story’s progression.
Maytag Virgin is an unexpected romance, a sincere progression of two people thrust together unexpectedly, both helpless and broken by their pasts but brought together by a desire to survive. Audrey Cefaly’s unflinchingly honest story is one no one should miss; take your mom and ‘dem and don’t miss it!
Running Time: Two hours, with one intermission.
Maytag Virgin plays from October 2-November 1, 2015 at Quotidian Theatre performing at The Writer’s Center – 4508 Walsh Street, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call the box office (301) 816-1023, or purchase them online.
Audrey Cefaly’s New Southern Drama ‘Maytag Virgin’ Opens This Friday, 10/2 at Quotidian Theatre Company as Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.