Review: The Roommate at Capital Stage

Live, love, puff, puff, pass?

Live, love, puff, puff, pass?

Photo courtesy of Charr Crail Photography

Showtimes: Wed 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through 7/21; $25-$42; Capital Stage, 2215 J Street, (916) 995-5464,
Rated 5.0

Capital Stage caps off its #SearchingForAmerica season with The Roommate by Jen Silverman. Generally, I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but every line of Silverman’s clever script feels like a reveal, so I’ll do my best. Under the careful direction of Dena Martinez, the play has a sort of breathless confessional quality to it as we watch two women getting to know each other as housemates, showing each other—and themselves—who they are.

Set to a score of female-led rock and riot grrrl staples (sound design by Ed Lee), this two-woman show is, in turns, hilarious, tense and surprising. Jamie Jones plays Robyn, the aloof “New York Vegan With a Past” (an archetype I now wish was in every play) and recent Iowa transplant. Laura Jane Bailey plays Sharon who, caught in her own lonely midwestern Davy Jones locker, is slowly turning into a “Live, Love, Laugh” sign until Robyn arrives, lighting a spark in her spirit and a joint in her living room. Both actors give strong performances, and Bailey brings real depth to an unpredictably dynamic Sharon.

The Roommate is about communication—and it has the collection of one-sided telephone calls to prove it—but it’s more so about the limits of language and how we use it to fence ourselves in, or talk ourselves down. This is a queer play, not because (or not just because) it touches on sexuality, but specifically because it urges us to find a flexibility in all the labels we put on ourselves.