RIPCORD – Written by David Lindsay-Abaire; Directed by Adam Stepan and Gavin H. White.  Produced by Springs Ensemble Theatre (Presented at the Fifty-Niner Speakeasy, 2409 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs) through June 23.  Tickets available at 719-357-3080 or 

I have the greatest admiration for theatre groups who take on big projects with limited resources but through creativity and determination pull it off.  Such is the case of SET who operate out of a tiny space in an old speakeasy behind a storefront in the Old Town part of the Springs.  Their stage looks to be about 20 feet square.  It is, however, an efficiently outfitted theatre space with a competent and dedicated crew bringing theatre to life for Colorado Springs patrons. 

They took on RIPCORD, a delightful comedy that would task any group wishing to take it on.  It requires multiple set changes and complicated special effects to tell its story.  One sentence synopsis:  Two elderly women in an assisted living setting are fighting for the coveted bed by the window.  Don’t laugh – they are dead serious.  Or so it seems.  But there is a little more complicated war going on under all the jokes and weird set-ups.  They have placed a secret bet between them, the winner of which gets the coveted bed.  One must scare the other before her roommate makes her mad.  A proverbial ODD COUPLE scenario that encompasses a new setting and new ages. 

But leave it up to the playwright to pull you along by the nose creating wilder and wilder efforts by both of them to scare or anger the other to the point of the absurd.  The staff at the facility and the families of both participants get drug into the doings and soon you’re asking yourself, “What’s next?”  But through all the jokes and laughter, family secrets come oozing out and the developments become a little more serious and revealing.  Some of the most powerful scenes are when there are just quiet conversations between two people that tell the story underneath the story.   

The two contentious “old” ladies are played by the seasoned and experienced actresses Melissa Hoffman as the gloomy dour Abby and Barbara Summerville as the determinedly upbeat Marilynne.  They are a great match in opposing styles and temperament.  You have the feeling that, once they get through this rough spot, they will probably end up as good friends.  Maybe not roommates, but friends nevertheless.  Their pranks against each other are original and complicated, much to the delight of the audience.  And the subtext for each is quietly revealed and beautifully portrayed by both. 

The medical technician Scotty who brings them their pills and befriends both of them is given delightful life by Nate Woodroof.  He is entirely believable as a novice thespian and a doting health aide.  Cody Van Hooser gives a touching performance as a voice out of Abby’s past that causes a cataclysmic change in her life. Completing the cast are Marilynne’s daughter (Autumn Schindler) and son-in-law (Patrick Rogers) who become embroiled in their mother’s efforts to scare Abby.  

Even with the limited playing space SET enjoys, they used it and their talent very well to create an enjoyable evening for their patrons. This is the little theatre to watch in Colorado Springs. 

A WOW factor of 8!! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *