THE ROOMMATE (1812 Productions): 60-second review

the roommate 1812 review

Where are Oscar and Felix when you really need them? Jen Silverman’s sit-com (and, briefly, rom-com), The Roommate, opened Wednesday night at 1812 Productions; it is both unfunny and uninteresting. It’s Breaking Bad without the cancer, dealing drugs just for the fun of it.

The set up is this: Sharon (Jen Childs) lives alone in Iowa, her husband having “retired” from their marriage and her adult son having retired to adult life in Brooklyn. Robyn (Grace Gonglewski, looking terrific) arrives as her roommate. After the tornado jokes, the vegan jokes, the lesbian jokes and the flyover jokes, the play goes on to endorse phone-scamming people—even friends— out of their credit cards, peddling pot brownies to twelve-year-olds, stealing watches, and buying guns because they feel so good in your hand. The theme seems to lie in the repeated line, “There is great liberty in being bad.” To find all this hilarious in the contemporary world is to require an audience so naive—and immoral—as to be more shocking than the show.

Mercifully, it’s short, like this review, which is also merciful (believe me).

[1812 Productions at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place] September 26–October 20, 2019; 1812productions.org

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About the author

Toby Zinman

Toby Zinman is a recently retired professor of English at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a Fulbright professor at Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor in China. She publishes widely and lectures internationally on American drama. Her fifth book, Replay: Classic Modern Drama Reimagined, was published by Methuen, and she published the essay, "Visions of Tragedy in Contemporary American Drama," in 2017. Zinman is also the chief theater critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. She was named by American Theatre magazine as, “one of the 12 most influential critics in America.” Her travel writing has taken her all over the world, from dogsledding in the Yukon to hiking across England.