Two actresses shine in ‘The Roommate’

December 9 - The Opal Center for Arts and Education might just be Cottage Grove’s best-kept secret.

The funky little downtown theater features variety shows, classes and camps, and is currently home to a hilarious two-person show, The Roommate, by Jen Silverman.

The play is also a thought-provoking production that deals with preconceived biases. The two actresses, Nikki Pagniano and Elizabeth Peterson, play off each other beautifully and are both confident enough in their skill to share the stage.
The worldly Robyn (Pagniano) is at first amused by Sharon’s (Peterson) aversion to homosexuality, marijuana and non-Iowans. Since Robyn embodies almost everything that Sharon dislikes, her opinions change as she learns more about her new roommate, and Robyn learns the two women have more in common than she could have imagined.

The audience’s recognition of the important themes is almost palpable during the show as the breaks are filled with quiet conversation at first, then applause as the play continues.

Director Lance Troxel’s simple set keeps the focus on the characters and simple costume changes indicate the passage of time without prolonging the breaks. The brief pauses for the prop girls’ adjustments to the set are seamless and smooth.

The play runs 90 minutes with no intermission, so the audience is warned before the show starts to “use the restroom now.”

Showtimes are Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at The Crafty Mercantile, 517 E. Main St., Cottage Grove or online at: Tickets are $15.