Getting a roommate leads to unexpected consequences


From left, Laurie Carter Rose (Robyn) and Ellen Phelps (Sharon) in The Roommate at Citadel Theatre. (Photo by North shore camera Club)
From left, Laurie Carter Rose (Robyn) and Ellen Phelps (Sharon) in The Roommate at Citadel Theatre. (Photo by North Shore Camera Club)

3 ½ starts

While watching the excellent portrayals of Ellen Phelps as Sharon and Laurie Carter Rose as Robyn, in Citadel Theatre’s “The Roommate, you may not agree with all their choices but you clearly get the message that they are seeking ways to begin their lives anew.

There are many quotable lines in this play by Jen Silverman, but one that delivers the show’s “raison d’etre,” is when Sharon says in Scene 2, “I guess everybody wants to start over. Just burn it all down and start over.”

A dark comedy, “The Roommate” brings together a recently divorced Iowan housewife searching for company and a way to split the bills and a lesbian, former Brooklyn con artist who really seems to want to escape her past in a small-town, farming community.

Their seemingly simple plans go awry as Sharon becomes interested in Robyn’s former life and Robyn realizes she may be a dangerously corrupting influence.

In addition, both women seem to have alienated their adult children. Neither Sharon’s son nor Robyn’s daughter want to call Mom until they realize through their parent’s strange, long distance calls that something is changing.

Even though I had seen the play and enjoyed it at Steppenwolf last year, I was appreciating the show once again until the last line which I objected to then and still do.

Depressed by her once again empty house because Robyn leaves, Sharon first says, “I don’t know where to start…. Except over again”  Fine. The play should have ended there.

But then Sharon, handling some stuff Robyn left behind, adds what Robyn had said earlier in another context, “There is a great liberty in being BAD.”

Perceptively directed by Beth Wolf and staged on a believable, well-designed set by Eric Luchen, “The Roommate” offers a somewhat exaggerated but fun and interesting “what if” scenario on life when people reach middle age and wonder what should come next.

“The Roommate” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., in a Lake Forest School District  building, through March 3, 2019. Running time: 90 min., no intermission. For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554, ext. 1 or visit Citadel Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago


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