BURLINGTON — Have you ever wanted to just let loose with your inner wickedness? The uptight 50-something Sharon discovers unexpectedly she wants to explore her darker side with the reluctant help of her worldly new friend, Robyn, in “The Roommate.”
Vermont Stage opened a rich, intimate and very funny production of Jen Silverman’s black comedy Wednesday at its new home at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center Black Box, thanks much to an excellent local cast. (Parking is easy!)
Sharon, divorced and lonely, decides to take a roommate into her Midwestern home, and finds one through an ad. Having met only by phone, Sharon finds Robyn somewhat exotic, alarming even. After all, Robyn is a gay vegan from Brooklyn.
It doesn’t take long for Robyn’s veneer to crack. But she isn’t prepared for Sharon’s response to her checkered past. In fact, she’s shocked. And neither have any idea where things are going. It’s quite a ride.
In the Vermont Stage production, Karen Lefkoe as Sharon and Kathryn Blume as Robyn certainly take that ride. Although it was a little slower than might be most effective at Wednesday’s opening night performance, the pace should pick up with subsequent performances.
Lefkoe simply was Sharon. An over-zealous mother, a liberal wannabe, an adult innocent, Lefkoe was all these things and more. When she found out Robyn was gay, her response that she once kissed a girl in college felt so genuinely naïve. But Lefkoe also enjoyed Sharon’s glee as she discovered things that weren’t so nice. Lefkoe proved an excellent comic actress.
Blume’s Robyn contrasted her all the way, delivering the character’s crustiness that — unhappily to Robyn — covered a heart of gold. Blume had an innate earthiness that made Robyn feel authentic. And the two actors worked very comfortably together.
For the excellent physical production, Chuck Padula’s set was all you might want in a spacious Midwestern kitchen, lit by Alan Heffernon. Martha Goode’s musical choices added their own spicy flavor, as did Cora Fauser’s authentic costumes.
Vermont Stage’s “The Roommate” is a witty romp on the dark side of all of us.