Boise Little Theater's current production, In the Rest Room at Rosenbloom's, written by Ludmilla Bollow and directed by Wendy Koeppl, is a play about three elderly women who meet every day in a ladies room lounge to gossip about the and troubles they face with age.
When I arrived at the theater, a well-dressed older man stood post at the entrance and opens the door for my date and me. I was charmed by BLT's effort to uphold this antique tradition. I was not, however, delighted by the ticket taker who, upon handing us our playbills, asked my studded-belt wearing date, "Does it hurt to sit down?" It didn't exactly make us feel welcome, but we followed the usher to our seats.
We were seated near the front when the lights dimmed, a signal for the audience to quiet down, which the couple next to us eventually did as the curtain came up. The stage looked like a set from the late '80s, early '90s TV sitcom, The Golden Girls, and as the characters were introduced, the similarities continued.
Myrah (Vicki Patterson) is the Dorothy of Rosenbloom's. She is outspoken and funny, with loud opinions to match her loud dress. She talks about her days as a burlesque dancer and says things like, "Birds in a cage ain't nothin' like a man in the bed," in response to the obsessive care Winifred takes with her canaries. Winifred (Judi Radek) is the Rose of the play. Childish and naive, she still waits for her husband, lost to WWII 40 years earlier, to come home each day and deals with the pain through a series of vices, one being her "asthma medication," which we later learned is more alcohol than medicine.
Violet (Diane Benedict) is much like Blanche. She was raised to be a proper lady and avoids confrontation with Myrah, who at one point reprimands Violet's cordiality by saying, "Emily Post is dead!"
Throughout most of the play, Myrah and Violet are trying to hide Winifred from her sister Claire (Elizabeth Greeley), a tough and imposing dog trainer who Winifred fears wants to put her away in a nursing home much like she did with their mother. The three women face off while Winifred slowly slips into a delirium that makes it clear she does need help.
The underlying theme of the play is that these women resent feeling like they no longer belong anywhere because they're old. As Myrah puts it, "People don't like broken things. They don't like crippled things, and they don't like old people." Though the line got a good laugh from the crowd, it was such a sad statement.
I glanced around the theater and realize that much of the audience was older and could probably identify with the characters onstage. Most of them may have felt discriminated against because of their age at some point, and they may also remember a time when most restrooms had lounges. Suddenly, I felt like the one who didn't belong because I didn't identify with the content of the play.
In the Rest Room at Rosenbloom's has some great one-liners and poignant moments, but my date and I left the theater feeling unaffected. The acting was good and the crowd was responsive, but the play itself is too selective of a target audience. It isn't universally funny enough to be The Golden Girls, but it's honest enough to make those who sympathize with the characters laugh at least a few times.
Feb. 28-29, March 1 and 6-8 at 8 p.m., March 2 at 2 p.m., and March 5 at 7:30 p.m. Boise Little Theater, 100 E. Fort St., 208-342-5104, BoiseLittleTheater.org.