Dark Horse Theatre Company has come up with an ingenious new play that uses Zoom’s strengths and still gives us an insightful, funny, and wrenching work. And they accomplish it all within 30 minutes.
…an insightful, funny, and wrenching work.
“Conversations Through A Bathroom Door” introduces us to Gary (Monnie Aleahmad) and Lila (Amy Dellagiarino) Watson, whom we meet while Lila is sitting in the locked bathroom having a bottle of wine and Gary is outside trying to coax her out. Their relationship is in crisis — Lila is desperately reaching for denial and Gary is trying to reconnect as best he can. He wants her to finally come to couples therapy with him. As he points out, it isn’t really couples therapy when there is only one person there.
Then there’s another ding from the Facetime app. It’s Lila’s sister, Rally (Amy Benson), who wants to know if the steaks their mom sent have arrived. This total non sequitor adds the perfect touch of reality. Two worlds may be on the verge of falling apart, but other people have priorities too.
As the story progresses — with Gary’s strained patience and frustration and Lila’s tiptoeing closer to a grief of which she is terrified (actually several griefs) — Rally pops in and out because evidently mom keeps calling her and she then she calls Lila. And the circle continues.
There is no easy resolution in the 30 minutes, but there is hope — hope in love, in the future, and in trusting again.
The actors are good, particularly Aleahmad as Gary. He has some heavy lifting to do. He doesn’t get the more showboating emotions that Lila does (especially as her trauma is revealed and we see her reactions to that trauma). He doesn’t get the beautifully-timed Rally interruptions (Benson has great comedic instincts). Gary has to find a realistic path through his own needs while trying to support his wife and not succumbing to the “fixer” role stereotypical of many men. He did such a good job that I would have liked to see this play expanded to explore more of his emotional life.
This was an unexpectedly involving play and you find yourself really rooting for this couple. Dellagiarino, who wrote the play as well as portraying Lila, has chosen to take an honest look at what motherhood can mean to many women that is too often ignored or treated with opprobrium. The dialogue is real and poignant.
The show was directed by Natasha Parnian. She kept a light touch and the honesty of the characters’ actions added to the sense of eavesdropping on a real family.
Dark Horse Theatre Company has been adapting well to remote theatre. They have the timing down and the scripts have been imaginatively suited to this environment. This one was written specifically for remote viewing.
They are planning some live, socially-distanced, “Calamity Improve” nights in Herndon, VA in November and December.
Running Time: Approximately 30 minutes without intermission.
For more information on “Conversations Through A Bathroom Door” and upcoming in-person, socially-distanced productions, Dark Horse Theatre Company, The Plains, VA, please click here.