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DigBoston Review: The Roommate

Paula Plum and Adrianne Krstansky in The Roommate. Photo by Mark S. Howard.

★★★★☆

Two of Boston’s best-loved actresses join forces for The Roommate, Jen Silverman’s quirky comedy about two middle-aged women who find themselves living together, trying new things, and reckoning with a demon or two. Paula Plum plays Sharon, a 54-year-old Iowa woman who has recently retired from her marriage and takes in a roommate in order to save a little money. Adrianne Krstansky plays Robyn, a gay vegan from the Bronx whose arrival awakens in Sharon something real and untapped.

Directed by Spiro Veloudos, The Roommate is an irresistible treat featuring two beloved actresses at the top of their games. The play loses a bit of steam in its last third when Sharon takes a special interest in Robyn’s past, but Plum’s evolution (or devolution, depending on how you look at it) from provincial Midwestern matron to a scheming, pot-selling hussy is profoundly entertaining. What’s more, it’s the best thing the Lyric has done in nearly two years.

THE ROOMMATE. THROUGH 11.18 AT THE LYRIC STAGE COMPANY OF BOSTON, 140 CLARENDON ST., BOSTON. LYRICSTAGE.COM

The Roommate Press & Media

All photos by Mark S. Howard

Paula Plum & Adrianne Krstansky.  Photo by Mark S. Howard

Paula Plum.  Photo by Mark S. Howard

Paula Plum & Adrianne Krstansky.  Photo by Mark S. Howard

Paula Plum & Adrianne Krstansky.  Photo by Mark S. Howard

Paula Plum & Adrianne Krstansky.  Photo by Mark S. Howard
Paula Plum & Adrianne Krstansky.  Photo by Mark S. Howard
Adrianne Krstansky & Paula Plum.  Photo by Mark S. Howard

Special Event: Ode to Hayes

On Sunday December 9th and 23rd, Castle of our Skins, a concert and educational series that is dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music, will present a tribute to Roland Hayes here at Lyric Stage. 

The celebration will include spiritual and art songs that were championed by Hayes and world premiere work that was created with youth in Boston. A reception will also follow.

The event will take place from 1:00-1:30 on both days and tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children under 12.

About Breath & Imagination

Before there was Marian Anderson, there was Roland Hayes – one of the first world-renowned African-American classical vocalists.  Breath & Imagination is a play with music that chronicles the amazing journey of this pioneer from the plantation in Georgia to singing before kings and queens in Europe.   At the heart of the story is Roland’s loving, complex relationship with his mother – his Angel Mo’. Employing spirituals and classical music, Breath & Imagination is an inspirational exploration of one man’s determination to be an artist despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

A co-production with The Front Porch Arts Collective.

A winning, inspirational story of a man who found his freedom in song.” – WBUR, The ARTery

Why³ with Spiro Veloudos: The Roommate

We sat down with Spiro to learn more about why he chose to direct The Roommate this season!

Why this play? 
Jen Silverman is an amazing writer and this play seemed right for us. I also get to work with some of the wealth of women actors (of a certain age) here in Boston.

Why the Lyric Stage?
It’s my home and I love it when I can open the doors on a new play.

Why now?
In a world filled with stories about men, here we have a play written by a woman, telling the story of two specific women faced with the need to change, to rethink their lives, and hopefully, to find companionship. And it’s a comedy – how can you go wrong?

About The Roommate

Sharon, middle-aged and recently divorced, welcomes a roommate into her Iowa home:  Robyn, a free-spirited, mysterious lesbian slam poet from the Bronx who’s looking to start over.  But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets while sharing music, books, and an occasional toke, she discovers a deep-seated desire to transform her own life.

It’s a subversive, absorbing comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.​

“Deeply satisfying” – Boston Globe

“Tugs at the heartstrings and tickles the funny bone.” – Louisville.com

How Funny (Or Terrifying) Would It Be If You Tried To Turn Your Life Around?

Chatting with Adrianne  Krstansky and Paula Plum

What Lyric Stage shows have you appeared in before?
Adrianne Krstansky: Barbecue and November.
Paula Plum: Too many to count, starting in 1975 when I was still in college
and in one of the first Lyric Stage shows. And of course, many
directed by Spiro: Death of a Salesman, Sideman, 33 Variations,
Blythe Spirit.

What excites you about The Roommate?
AK: I’m very excited to work with Spiro for the first time. And I’m
really excited to be in a play about middle-aged women where
I’m not the wife or the mom.
PP: I always love Spiro’s take on gritty plays and I’m blessed to
be working with Adrianne as my scene partner.

What challenges do you find in the script?
AK: Robyn is challenging because she does not actually reveal
anything about herself until about halfway through the play.
I have to figure out how to stay open and available without
being duplicitous at the same time.
PP: Sharon is challenging because she seems like an open
book but her intentions are hard to figure out and she’s hard
to decipher. Is she naïve or is she a con?

Throughout the play, Robyn and Sharon make many
discoveries about the other that change who they are.
How has a roommate helped you to change?
AK: I had a roommate who was the queen of the party circuit
and every weekend we would have about 30-50 people in our
apartment. At these parties, I would pick one or two people
who I thought were cool and take them up to a crawl space in
the attic. What I learned how to do as a result of that is how to
become the cool, quiet person at the party.                                                       

 PP: My college roommate Eve — we were roommates 4 – 5
times — helped me renew my interest in meditation. And she
eats healthier. She was a good influence. I’m not sure Sharon
and Robyn are necessarily a good influence on each other.

What do you and your character from The Roommate
have in common?
AK: I think we’re both quiet thrill seekers. We’re both unassuming
enough that no one would ever suspect us of much. I would be
a great spy because no one would ever suspect me of anything
other than being a nice, unassuming person.
PP: Iowa! My father was from there and I spent 14 summers there.
And I think I’m impulsive. I am. And experimental.

What is something you hope the audience will look out for?
AK: I think we tend to label relationships that we are in (love,
parental, marriages, etc.) and what this play exposes is that there
are relationships in our lives that are beyond definition — and
that our instincts to label and put these interactions in a box
actually can keep us separated from each other.
PP: I hope that they’re drawn in to the mystery of this
relationship. Because it’s unique — it’s about two women who
really need each other.

How do you feel about working with each other?
AK: I love working with Paula Plum. Working with Paula is like
coming home.
PP: Adrianne is so deep, real, and honest. There’s not an ounce
of performance in her performance. You can always count on
the truth from her.


The Roommate opens October 19th. Get your tickets today here or 617.585.5678!

A First Look at the set of The Roommate

The cast just got a first look at the set of The Roommate. Enjoy this sneak preview! Scenic design by Jenna McFarland Lord.

The Roommate opens October 19th

Sharon, middle-aged and recently divorced, needs a roommate to share her Iowa home.  Robyn needs a place to hide and a chance to start over.  But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets while sharing music, books, and an occasional toke, she discovers a deep-seated desire to transform her own life completely.   It’s a subversive, absorbing comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.

Warning: Spoilers for The Roommate Ahead!

A brief guide to everything you might want to know about The Roommate. 

by Sivan Amir & Alzi Kenney, Artistic Assistants

Approximate Run Time: 100 minutes

Playwright: Jen Silverman

Cast Size: 2

Lyric Actors You May Remember: Paula Plum (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Light Up the Sky, Death of a Salesman, 33 Variations, Three Tall Women), Adrianne Krstansky (Barbecue, November)

Director: Spiro Veloudos

Genre: Comedy

Description: Sharon, middle-aged and recently divorced, needs a roommate to share her Iowa home.  Robyn needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets while sharing music, books, and an occasional toke, she discovers a deep-seated desire to transform her own life completely.   It’s a subversive, absorbing comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.

The Playwright Says: “So I really wanted to write a play for badass women in their 50s. I sort of thought that, like, there is a kind of energy, a kind of concentration that happens when they are the two players on that stage and they have all that agency and all that power.”

Taavon Gamble is Valentin!

Meet Taavon Gamble, the actor behind the revolutionary Valentin in Kander & Ebb’s smash musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman!

Get tickets and more information at lyricstage.com or 617.585.5678!

Announcing a new collaboration with City Stage Co

The Lyric Stage Company of Boston and City Stage Co. have announced a new collaboration, along with their plan to merge this season. This union will bring together two companies with decades of experience in theatre and theatre-based education. Working together, more youth and families in the City of Boston will have access to their programs.

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