note: entire contents copyright 2015 by Sheila Barth
Theatergoers can always depend on Apollinaire Artistic Director-Director Danielle Fauteux-Jacques to bring something edgy and intriguing to the stage. Her production of Lisa D’Amour’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated, Obie Award winner for Best New American Play, “Detroit,” is no exception.
For an uninterrupted 110 minutes, the audience’s attention is riveted to Mark DiGiovanni’s backyard patio set, while an unorthodox friendship develops between new, next-door neighbors, Mary and Ben, Sharon and Kenny. These two unconventional thirtysomething,childless couples have individual hang-ups, so there’s no predicting where this shaky friendship is heading, or its consequences.
They live in an old, established neighborhood. Ben is a bank loan officer who just lost his job and intends to set up his own consulting website. His wife, Mary, is a paralegal, with a painful plantar wart on her foot and a nervous demeanor. They’ve invited next-door new folks Sharon and Kenny over for a get-to-know-you barbecue, which starts off awkwardly. Ben and Mary’s outside table umbrella doesn’t stay open, and their sliding door gets stuck. Walking on Mary’s sore foot throws her off-balance, she claims. Sharon and Kenny reveal Kenny’s aunt, who owns the house, has died, and his uncle is allowing them to rent it for awhile. Sharon says she works at a customer call center, while Kenny toils at a warehouse. They met at a rehab center a few months ago, and are on the wagon, they add, cavalierly. Things aren’t so smooth at Ben and Mary’s, either. Ben carefully watches Mary, who’s feeling less and less pain, secretly sloshing down vodka, or whatever she can get her hands on.
Mary announces they have no friends. Neither do Sharon and Kenny.
The couples’ bonding builds, along with the cast’s spot-on pace.
Suspicious, while visiting Sharon and Kenny at their house for an outdoor dinner of Cheetos, cheese whiz, and burgers, Mary snoops around inside. She discovers they have no furniture, little or no clothing, nothing - except the glass and wicker coffee table she gave them as a neighborly gesture.
Portraying Mary, Becca A. Lewis hysterically unleashes her inner desire to cut loose. So does Courtland Jones as free-wheeling Sharon. She gets louder, more radical, bawdy, raunchy. Kenny, (John Dylan Greene) does, too. One night, when Mary and Sharon are supposed to be camping in the woods, Kenny’s gone off the wagon, and wants to have “some good, [not necessarily] clean fun” at a strip joint with Ben (Stephen Libby). The girls return early, thwarting Kenny’s plans,
Little by little, D’Amour releases more facts, but not enough to tip the plot; not even after the foursome’s group repression bursts, with unpredictable results.
Kenny and Sharon have split. Kenny’s uncle, senior citizen homeowner, Frank, (Rick Winterston) stops by later, confiding about the couple to Ben and Mary. And he nostalgically archives bygone days of the old, friendly neighborhood.
BOX INFO: Apollinaire Theatre Company presents Lisa D’Amour’s 110-minute, one-act play, “Detroit,” through May 9, at Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, Friday, Saturday, at 8 p.m. Advance tickets, $20; at the door, $25; students,$15. All performances include a post-show reception with the actors in the Gallery. Call 617-887-2336 or visit www.apollinairetheatre.com.