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‘The roommate’ will play at Carlsbad’s New Village Arts Theater from March 28 to April 19. Courtesy photo
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Women in middle age take center stage in New Village Arts’ ‘The Roommate’

CARLSBAD — New Village Arts will continue their comedic streak in the aftermath of “Murder for Two,” but now with a tinge of darkness added to the mix. The Jen Silverman-penned “The Roommate” is a dark comedy that will run from March 28 to April 19, with previews playing a week beforehand.

The play is directed by Samantha Ginn, who works at New Village Arts both as an actor and as an instructor in their Monday Night Live program, which showcases the acting talents of neuro-diverse students. The show marks her debut as director in one of their productions.

The story revolves around Sharon, a recent divorcee in her mid-50s living in Iowa City. Another woman around the same age as Sharon named Robyn, who is trying to earn herself a new lease on life, comes to live with Sharon at her house. Once Sharon starts to learn about how events have led Robyn up to this point, she endeavors to help Robyn transform her life. Drama ensues.

The two leads are portrayed by actresses Milena Phillips and Kim Strassburger. During rehearsals, Ginn has met individually with the actors and asked them how to make them successful and to bring out their best performances. Each actress has communicated what’s most helpful for them, which is to do a lot of repetition in rehearsals. “It’s a lot of exploring, and also, I’ve been making sure I leave my ego at the door, so that it’s a true collaborative process and whoever has the best idea in the room wins.”

Some of the themes in the play Ginn wants to emphasize are “getting in touch with our authenticity, a freedom in being bad, starting over and connecting with people in our lives that change us. And also, what do we do when we’re lonely? … also, re-identifying self is a big one.”

The idea(s) of starting completely over and reinventing yourself will also be elaborated upon in the production. “When your identity dies, it can be a very scary thing,” Ginn said. “So, what do you do when it does, when it’s over?”

“There’s not a lot of shows that explore the female story in your mid-50s,” Ginn said of the uniqueness of the show. “It’s very female-driven, it’s written by a female (about) two women in their mid-50s living in Iowa City. And it’s unique because it’s a story that’s not often written about. So, it’s exciting to get this story on stage and brought to life.”

“This play is really exciting, it’s 90 minutes with no intermission, and it’s two incredible actresses and it’s just a wild ride,” she said. “It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s suspenseful, it’s everything I want to come see in a play. It’s a wild ride, it’s a journey of the human spirit, for sure.”

The show will run at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. on some Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $28 with a $3 service charge.