Yes, Virginia

Michael Van Duzer Reviews - Theater

Stan Zimmerman and Christian McLaughlin’s first collaboration for the theater was the hilarious inside-Hollywood satire, Meet & Greet. In that show, the laughs were raucous, the situation absurd, and the characters deliciously larger-than-life. Their new world premiere, Yes, Virginia, is very different in style and substance.

Set in upscale Bloomfield, Michigan, the play is a realistic two-hander that deals with issues of aging, marital disappointments, living alone and a young man’s death. All leavened with a generous dose of humor.

Christmas decorations still adorn Denise’s (Mindy Sterling) home on New Year’s Eve. Denise is on the phone with her son when Virginia (Ellia English) enters and prepares to clean the house. This startles Denise, as she let Virginia go before the holidays. But, before she can investigate, Virginia has an accident and winds up on the sofa, nursing her injured ankle like a well-mannered Sheridan Whiteside.

As the afternoon moves into evening, the ladies will share memories, trade advice, and open to each in ways they never could when constrained by the employer/employee relationship. (A handy supply of pot-laced lollipops assists in promoting intimacy.) The shared confidences and the growing affinity between the women leads them to form an alliance neither of them could have imagined.

The script is warm and natural, with humor gracefully woven through the dialog. Zimmerman and McLaughlin deftly remind us that even women outside of the large urban centers can empower themselves. The 90-minute play has a few transitions towards the end which feel slightly rushed, but that is probably only a matter of allowing those moments to breathe. Zimmerman directs the show with sensitivity and a sure hand which remains appropriately invisible.

Sterling and English slip into the roles with ease and volley their lines off one another with the responsiveness of Wimbledon champions. Sterling delights in Denise’s acerbic humor and quicksilver mood changes, while English believably charts Virginia’s journey from diffidence to confidence.

Yes, Virginia’s small cast and terrific roles should make it popular with actresses of a certain age. Combine that with the play’s comfortably topical themes, and you have a show that should see many regional theater productions.

Studio C    April 9 -30, 2017