Sunday on the Rocks

Writer Theresa Rebeck has found success on the stage ("Spike Heels," "Loose Knit"), television (producer/writer for "NYPD Blue") and film ("Harriet the Spy"). Her four-character journey through one day of late-20s feminine angst certainly proves she can create intriguing character interaction, but she never establishes why anyone should care about these narrowly focused, self-serving ladies.

With:
Gayle - Rebecca O’Brien
Elly - Kim Rhodes
Jen - Justine Reiss
Jessica - Kirsten Nelson

Writer Theresa Rebeck has found success on the stage (“Spike Heels,” “Loose Knit”), television (producer/writer for “NYPD Blue”) and film (“Harriet the Spy”). Her four-character journey through one day of late-20s feminine angst certainly proves she can create intriguing character interaction, but she never establishes why anyone should care about these narrowly focused, self-serving ladies.

Cathy Reinking (casting director for “Movie Stars”) and an outstanding ensemble establish a wonderfully facile throughline to the lazy Sunday ruminations of roommates Gayle (Rebecca O’Brien), Elly (Kim Rhodes), Jen (Justine Reiss) and Jessica (Kirsten Nelson) but the end result is still … boring!Having very recently discovered she is pregnant from her not-committed-enough boyfriend, attractive but pugnaciously negative-minded Elly decides on the perfect Sunday morning breakfast fare: scotch and cigarettes.

Soon, Elly and her more easy-going, malleable roommates Gayle and Jen are swilling booze and mind-tripping through the dissatisfactions in their lives.

Gayle had bartered sexual favors to obtain the money to complete her education. Sexually liberated Jen had a two-year affair with a married man and is now having problems with a co-worker named Richardson whom she won’t sleep with. And as the morning gives way to afternoon, Elly’s contrary nature is leading her to an increasingly more rigid resolve to have an abortion.

All three expend a good deal of their energies dissing their absent roomy, morally-superior, anal-retentive Jessica, whose dis-approving specter hovers over all their psyches.

When Jessica does return, her own narrowly subjective agenda unleashes a cathartic explosion that sends Jen out into a battering experience with Richardson, confounds Gayle and transforms Elly into a knife-wielding mass of seared nerve endings.

All this emotional upheaval might be heady stuff for the characters involved but doesn’t transcend the stage. For all their whining dissatisfaction with their lot, it is quite obvious that all four of these bright, healthy, attractive women could change everything about their lives by simply changing their minds and doing something else. Like all self-involved boors, their refusal to evolve becomes irritating, and they outstay their welcome.

The ensemble certainly cannot be faulted. Rhodes’ Elly exudes a tangible ire that appears to literally eat away at her nervous system. Reiss quite effectively communicates the ambivalence of a good-hearted soul who cannot get herself to break off her friendship with the unseen but much-discussed Richardson, despite her suspicions about him.

O’Brien offers an appealingly comical presence as inebriated truce-maker Gayle. And Nelson’s Jessica is riveting in her under-stated but searing disapproval of anyone who doesn’t meet her standards of behavior.

Sunday on the Rocks

Company of Angels; 60 seats; $20 top

Production: The Company of Angels in association with Justine Reiss and Rebecca O’Brien present a play in two acts by Theresa Rebeck. Directed by Cathy Reinking; assistant director, Carrie Robinson. Lighting design, John Prince. Opened and reviewed March 25, 2000; runs until May 17. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Cast: Gayle - Rebecca O’Brien
Elly - Kim Rhodes
Jen - Justine Reiss
Jessica - Kirsten Nelson

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