Thursday, December 3, 2015

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Ripcord

By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by David Hyde Pierce
Manhattan Theatre Club
Through Dec.6

What's It All About?
Fabulous comedy/drama from Pulitzer-Prize winner Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Good People) about two women in the Bristol Place Assisted Living Facility. Abby Binder (Holland Taylor) has been enjoying a room all to her self for most of the years she has been at the facility, but recently Marilyn Dunne (Marylouise Burke) moved in and Abby wants her out. Bouncy, sunshiny Marilyn never stops talking, especially about her family and little grandson. Abby just wants to be left alone and in peace and implores home employee Scotty (Nate Miller), to pull some strings and get rid of her. The budding actor agrees -- if Abby will join Marilyn on a trip to a haunted house in which he is performing. As the roommates discover more about each other, Abby reveals that nothing frightens her while Marilyn apparently never gets angry. The women make a bet: if Abby can make Marilyn angry, she will get a single room again. If Marilyn can scare, Abby, however, she will stay and get Abby's bed with the view.

What ensues is hysterical hijinx as the women try to win the bet, with Marilyn involving her plucky daughter Colleen ("Saturday Night Live"'s Debbie Downer Rachel Dratch) and reluctant son-in-law Derek (Daoud Heidami). Also paying a visit is Abby's estranged son, Benjamin (Glenn Fitzgerald). Amidst the laughs, are some poignant human emotions -- Marilyn's marriage might not have been all that happy and Abby has reasons for building a wall of stone around her heart -- well acted by Holland and Burke who develop a splendid "Odd-Couple-esque"  relationship ably directed by David Hyde Pierce.

What Are the Highlights?
Great dialogue and non-stop laughs. At the end of the first act, everyone in the audience still was laughing, prompting each other to recall their favorite parts and laughing all over again. Many people voiced doubt that the second act could live up to the first and would be sure to disappoint, but I can tell you, they were pleasantly surprised and exclaiming, "That was awesome, when leaving the theater. I convey these comments so you will know I am not alone when I say that I haven't enjoyed a show this much in a long time.

The sets designed by Alexander Dodge lift the show to its full potential. They take us from the assisted living facility into the wild blue yonder and beyond.

The haunted house sequence left me in stitches, especially given how much I did not appreciate the Sleep No More experience at the McKittrick Hotel a few seasons ago....  Funniest baby-eating clown (also played by Fitzgerald) ever.

Again, in between the laugh lines is a nice story about family, friendship, forgiveness and fresh starts.

What Are the Lowlights?
The short run already is an an end.

More Information:
Creatives:Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Jennifer von Mayrhauser (costume design), John Gromada (original music and sound design) and Thomas Schall (fight director).

Christians might like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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