Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday | 09.07-22.12

RUBY-sqFour words: Go see this play.

 

 

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photo: Todd Studios Photography
Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday is the best play I have seen in a long time, at least a year. Not only is it extremely well written, but the six actors who comprise the cast are all pitch perfect in their roles.

HotCity Theatre is presenting the world premiere of EM Lewis’s play, the 2011 winner in their 6th Annual GreenHouse New Play Festival. Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday centers on Lynn Hallaby (the brilliant Nicole Angeli), who, we soon learn, has packed a bag, left her husband of 10 years, quit her job, and bought a one-way ticket from Oregon to Alaska. The play takes place in real time, in two rooms of the Hallaby house: the kitchen and bathroom, with offstage exits both left and right that suggest other rooms.

Lynn has returned to her childhood home, both to bid her family goodbye, and because they live right next to the bus stop. There, younger brother Kelly (Charlie Barron, who positively embodies the character), mom Margie (Peggy Billo, playing the matriarch trying to hold it all together, to limited success), and dad Hudson (Joe Hanrahan, so good in his role of a clueless, helpless dad) interact—often in dysfunctional ways, frequently not hearing each other, sometimes thinking only of themselves, yet doing it all with an underlying, if warped, sense of love.

When the play opens, everyone is still asleep—all but Margie, that is, who is dragging her daughter’s heavy duffel bag into the kitchen to hide it. Lynn rises a few minutes later, and immediately guesses her mother has hidden her bag. As the family talks around, and sits down at, the kitchen table, over cheap cereal, un-toasted toast, or eggs and sausage, each one is in denial, telling Lynn—and themselves—over and over that she is not leaving.

In the central role, Angeli is perfect, imbuing Lynn with just the right amounts of wit, sarcasm, conviction, and compassion. Though Lynn sometimes wavers, she remains strong in her convictions, deflecting every guilt trip her family sends her way. Her relationship with her brother deepens as we begin to see the pain he feels at her leaving. They have a heartfelt chat in the bathroom, during which things never talked about are finally brought to light.

The addition of Kelly’s boyfriend, Gary (Rusty Gunther), provides both comic and emotional relief. Kelly has not yet come out to his parents, so the two tread a careful line while still showing affection. And when Ray (Eric White), Lynn’s abandoned husband, shows up as we know he will, he is soon converted from an angry man demanding that his wife come home, to one who is visibly pained by her leaving.

Lynn is an imperfect character, broken in so many ways, as we come to learn over the course of the production. Her family, too, is skewed and annoying, yet still oddly loveable. So we take it all in, and we ponder the complexities of the story, and of life itself, and we wonder: What would it take for us to give it all up and head to the proverbial Alaska? The answer, when it comes, is this: Far, far less than Lynn has endured. | Laura Hamlett

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday has a running time of 85 minutes, with no intermission. Performances take place Thursdays through Sundays at the Kranzberg Arts Center in Grand Center, 501 N. Grand, just south of the Fox Theatre. Show times are 8 p.m. Thurs.–Fri., 3 and 8 p.m. Sat., and 7 p.m. Sun.; there is no matinee on Sat., Sept. 8. General admission tickets are $25 adults/$20 seniors; $15 student tickets are available five minutes before show time. Tickets are available at the box office. For more information, visit HotCity Theatre’s website or call 314-289-4060.

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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