Theatre Works' third show of their 27th season is "Indoor/Outdoor by Kenny Finkle. In this unabashedly sentimental comedy, a cat named Samantha has just started living with a guy named Shuman who she believes is her true love. She starts the show off by stating this is her memoirs. At first everything seems to be going great. Samantha can't get enough of Shuman and he can't get enough of her. But soon she realizes that Shuman doesn't seem to understand her. Worse yet, Shuman doesn't always seem all that interested in trying to understand her. Things become truly problematic when one night Oscar, a sexy alley cat shows up at the screen door. Suddenly Samantha begins to wonder whether she's an indoor cat or an outdoor cat. To make matters more complicated, a quirky aspiring cat therapist named Matilda inserts herself into the mix, thinking she can solve everyone's problems but only seems to make things worse. Eventually Samantha finds herself on a journey both physical and emotional that leads her to discover what having a home and being loved really mean to her. "Indoor/Outdoor'' is an allegory about the difficulties and joys of all manner of relationships. Look at Samantha as an unfulfilled housewife, tempted by a romantic stranger who eventually learns what unconditional love is all about. Director Mark Anderson casts the best 5 people in these comic roles and obtains amazing performances from them.
Mark gives his cast many comic bits including pratfalls and marvelous facial expressions. He not only directs the show but built the crazy cartoon-like unit set which consists of an outside porch with swinging screen door, a living room with a kitchen area upstage and a bedroom on downstage left. The set is how a cat would see the world.The comical costumes are by Sharon Charette and my favorites are the gypsy costume she has Matilda wearing with giant hoop earrings and the gaucho outfit Andrew wears as the mouse. Stage manager Connie Anderson keeps things moving smoothly all night long and runs the sound effects including a hilarious farting noise when Shuman and Samantha are first in bed together. Ashley Dougan is Samantha and she plays the cat's sweetness, frustration and rage both familiar feelings to animals and humans. She gives a tour-de-force performance with her emotion packed portrayal. Ashley never leaves the stage and is dynamic in this role. She begins as an innocent kitten and starts telling the story of her life and frustrations with her owner and how she is drawn to the sexy outdoor cat. One of her funniest scenes is when she has her first kill and how she does the mouse in will keep you in stitches all night long as will her naughtiest scene where she goes to the bathroom on Shuman's computer. Ashley is also awesome in a poignant scene in the second act which evokes tears from the audience. Michael Harrison shines as Shuman, the shy web designer who cries at the drop of a hat. Shuman lives in the woods and still loves the cat after he brings her into his home little suspecting the chaos and mayhem that is going to take place. Michael breathes life into this role and has funny chase scenes, tug of war with the mouse scene and makes this computer nerd someone the audience can root for. Nicole Gemma plays Matilda She is a hoot as the self-proclaimed cat therapist, as she tries every pop psychology technique in the book to try to bring cat and owner back together. Nicole's antics as she says she moonlights at Hooters, honks when she can't breath like Felix Ungar, understands what the cat is saying and has them play these wacky games are laugh out loud moments. I first reviewed Nicole when she was a student at RIC in "Little Shop Of Horrors" as Audrey in 1999 and "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" as Lucy in 2000. She was hilarious in those shows, too Lydia Mattera plays Samantha's mother whose first entrance is when she is giving birth to the kitten and says she has 20 more to go in this litter. Mom tells her that since the family they live with hasn't given the kitten a name, she is on her way to the Animal Rescue League while the Mother is trapped with her owner constantly watching Friends on TNT on TV. She is a topnotch character actress who also plays a couple of perspective buyers of Samantha and a very funny Italian speaking maid. I reviewed her in "Over the Tavern" and "Bull in a China Shop" and she always does wonderful stage work. Her real life son Andrew Mattera plays Oscar, the tomcat as well as the Mexican mouse and little boy named Abbot. He exudes sexiness and charm to Samantha as she becomes entangled in his temptation of a new and different kind of life. Andrew as Oscar has many funny lines including when he says the beach is like a giant litter box. Oscar enters the house by crashing through a skylight To say anything more would give away the hidden twists and turns of this show. Be sure to catch "Indoor/Outdoor" before this captivating play leaves town.