By Cari Lynn Pace
Ross Alternative Works, referred to as RAW, is Ross Valley Players’ selection of an original play by a local playwright. One play is chosen by committee each season, adding a fresh infusion to the company’s four traditional – and typically familiar – productions. Reservations, written by Joe Barison, has a theme capturing what director Michael R. Cohen calls “the absurdity of artistic aspirations.”
The plot line opens with two New York City visitors arriving at the same hotel to find their reservations double-booked. The bellhop (Kara S. Poon) shows Mr. Segal (Evan Held) to a sumptuous room, complete with cool blue walls, lovely antiques, and a balcony. The luxurious set – designed by Venee Call-Ferrer – is a marvel considering the low ceiling limitations of the Ross Valley Players Barn stage.
Mr. Segal makes himself at home, and is surprised when Gail Hartman (Tina Traboulsi) is also shown to the same room, lugging her painting and easel. The hotel manager (Michael-Paul Thomsett) arrives, apologizes, and offers a discount coupon for another hotel stay, yet can offer no alternative lodging. With no available hotel rooms in the city, the two strangers size each other up and reluctantly agree to share the room, at least for one night.
“They explore their insecurities about pursuing their creative paths in life…”
Held does an excellent turn as an aspiring writer and frustrated government worker. He is a perfect foil in contrast to Traboulsi in her role as a marginally successful artist who cherishes the view from this overbooked room. These actors master their roles, although the dialog in Act I moves slowly. They explore their insecurities about pursuing their creative paths in life.
Their serious conversations are truncated when Allison (Helen Kim) arrives to surprise her boyfriend. The action picks up in Act II when more characters crowd the room, or rather the balcony. The zaniness provides a pleasant end to this largely philosophical play.
The supporting cast is not quite as convincing as Held and Traboulsi, giving Reservations an uneven feel throughout. Still, it’s a thought-provoking exploration of the paths chosen by creative souls, and worth enjoying.
ASR Writer & Editor Cari Lynn Pace is a voting member of SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and writes theatre and lifestyle reviews for the Marinscope Community Newspapers throughout Marin County. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Written by||Joe Barison|
|Directed by||Michael R. Cohen|
|Producing Company||Ross Valley Players|
|Production Dates||Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2 PM through February 12, 2023|
|Production Address||Ross Valley Players
30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Greenbrae, CA 94904
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review PICK?||----|