Review: ‘Ripcord’ by Vienna Theatre Company

Vienna Theatre Company has just opened David Lindsay-Abaire’s hilarious play, Ripcord, for the last production of their current season. The show takes place in an assisted living facility, with two mismatched, elderly ladies as roommates. Think The Odd Couple but with more emotional meat and lots of trickery and shenanigans.

L-R: Marilyn (Susan Garvey), Scotty (Matthew Patterson) and Abby (Adriana Hardy) in Vienna Theatre Company's production of 'Ripcord.' Photo by John Sharrard.
L-R: Marilyn (Susan Garvey), Scotty (Matthew Patterson) and Abby (Adriana Hardy) in Vienna Theatre Company’s production of ‘Ripcord.’ Photo by John Sharrard.

Jessie Roberts directs this comedy that explores the complexities of family and forgiveness, in startling ways that will touch your heart as often as they tickle the funny bone.

Adriana Hardy plays Abby Binder, a crotchety woman who is used to getting exactly what she wants, which includes enjoying her room with two beds all by herself. But recently, Marilyn Dunne, played by Susan Garvey, has been assigned to be her roommate, and Abby is dead set on having her removed.

Garvey plays Marilyn in stark contrast to Hardy’s Abby, with a joyously bright attitude and a kind word for everyone. Abby does not try to disguise her distaste for Marilyn’s chipperness but in turn, Marilyn expresses her amusement at Abby’s determined negativity and has no desire to move to a different room, regardless of how mean Abby is.

Marilyn sees the opportunity to get Abby’s bed with a gorgeous, sunny view and proposes a bet. If she can frighten Abby, who insists she never gets scared, she gets the bed by the window. And if Abby can make the ever-cheerful Marilyn lose her temper, then Marilyn will move to a different room. What could possibly go wrong?

Matthew Peterson plays Scotty, Marilyn and Abby’s nurse, who is determined for the women to get along peaceably. But the ladies know that Scotty would strongly disapprove of their bet and it must be kept a secret.

However, that doesn’t keep Marilyn from enlisting her family, who shares in her competitiveness. Renee Rabbin plays her daughter, Colleen, who, with her husband Derek (Tom Epps), team up to help Marilyn win the coveted bed.

L- R: Colleen (Renee Rabben), Derek (Tom Epps), and Marilyn (Susan Garvey), in Vienna Theatre Company's production of 'Ripcord.' Photo by John Sharrard.
L- R: Colleen (Renee Rabben), Derek (Tom Epps), and Marilyn (Susan Garvey), in Vienna Theatre Company’s production of ‘Ripcord.’ Photo by John Sharrard.

The play takes a surprising turn when Marilyn, whose family owns a sky-diving company, drugs Abby and kidnaps her. Abby comes to in a plane, strapped to Derek, about to make a tandem jump.

But while Abby may have underestimated Marilyn’s competitive nature, she refuses to relent, and so we realize the battle has only just begun.

Hardy and Garvey have a great dynamic and play very well off each other. All of their scenes move with a steady, building energy and solid comic timing. Unfortunately, the scene changes take a long time, which disrupts the flow and drive of the show.

Most of the play takes place in the bedroom (designed by Skip Gresko), but in certain scenes (like with the airplane), there is a screen with prerecorded video projections of the action, designed by Jon Roberts.

These sequences are fun and work well in the story, but the changes in and out of these scenes stall the action. Still, the cast is strong and always manage to recapture the momentum.

As the play progresses, Abby and Marilyn constantly try to one-up each other and both women cross a line, exposing secrets and causing a private pain that neither may be able to repair.

Vienna Theatre Company’s production of Ripcord is a surprising and moving comedy, which at its core is about two very strong women and how hardship can mold a person’s heart. But the show is also a celebration of friendship, family, and the comfort that human connection can bring in even our darkest moments, all couched in hilarious adventures and biting wit.

The show is suitable for most ages, except for young children, as there is some language and mature subjects in the play.

Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Ripcord, presented by Vienna Theatre Company, runs through May 5, 2019, at the Vienna Community Center –  120 Cherry Street SE, Vienna, VA. Tickets are available in advance during community center hours, at the door, or online.

Ann Klenk, Producer; Micheal O’Connor, Stage Manager; Jay Stein, Light Designer; Emma Williams, Props Master; Judy Whelihan, Costume Designer; Auryana Malek, Make-up Designer; John Vasko, Master Carpenter