Abby Binder (Randi Douglas) is a grouch. And it’s no secret that she doesn’t want a roommate. Never has. When she is assigned one at the senior living facility where she resides, she understandably objects. Marilyn Dunne (Anita Sorel) is just too darned cheerful. And she makes noise.
This is the setup for Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire‘s hilarious play Ripcord, now at Clackamas Repertory Theatre. Marilyn is indeed a Chatty Cathy, and the resentful, entitled Abby pleads with orderly Scotty (James Sharinghousen) for relief to no avail. She then takes matters into her own hands. She and Marilyn wage a high-stakes bet. If Abby can make the cheerful Marilyn angry, Marilyn will move to another room. If, however, Marilyn can make Abby afraid, Abby will give her the bed by the window.
The pranks start out a bit childish, but quickly escalate. Both women are smart, sly, and above all determined. Some of their methods, particularly on Abby’s part, are downright dirty tricks. Others are pure, over-the-top humor.
Douglas and Sorel shine as the warring women. With spot-on direction by David Smith-English, their timing is impeccable. Jayson Shanafelt, Jayne Stevens, and Tom Mounsey each play numerous roles to further the action.
It is indeed refreshing to see a play about older women that not only is sharply written, but does not demean its characters by making offensive references to their age or capabilities. Indeed, these two exhibit enough toughness and guile to frighten the Taliban! They have honed their skills over years of adversarial conditions, and you don’t want to mess with them.
While comedy is highly subjective, few if any will be able to resist the genuine belly laughs this play elicits. It runs at the Osterman Theatre, Clackamas Community College, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City through September 30. It is the final production in Clackamas Rep’s 2018 season.