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By Beki Pineda

THE TAMING. Written by Lauren Gunderson; directed by Edith Weiss. Produced by The Catamounts at the Dairy Arts Center (2590 Walnut St.) through Oct. 8. Tickets available at www.thedairy.org.

RIPCORD. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire; directed by Rebecca Remaly. Produced by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at the Dairy Arts Center (2590 Walnut St.) through Oct. 9. Tickets available at www.betc.org.

I have to wonder if the people of Boulder actually realize how lucky they are. Not only to have the magnificent and newly remodeled Dairy Arts Center as a hub for theater, music and dance, but to have two such talented and creative companies (as well as others) to bring them amusing and amazing productions. You’ve currently got your choice of two wonderful productions sure to make you laugh and make you think. You’ve still got time to see both. Get on it!

THE TAMING, performed in the remodeled Carsen Theater, is more than just a political comedy; it’s a plot that actually makes a lot of sense. A Republican senator’s uptight political assistant, Patricia (McPherson Horle), finds herself inexplicably locked in a hotel room with Bianca (Missy Moore), a liberal Democratic blogger who’s fighting to save an obscure shrew from extinction. Bianca’s case is weakened by the discovery that the shrew is spreading herpes to dogs. The two women ultimately discover that they have been hijacked by a contestant in the Miss America pageant (Laura Lounge) who, despite her bubble-headed appearance and manner, has a very serious agenda. Barbs are thrown among the three, and no common meeting ground seems possible. When confronted with a confusing problem, Patricia (the Republican) asks herself, “What would Condoleezza do?” When Patricia says a “liberal patriot” is not a real thing, Bianca replies, “Neither is a gay Republican,” and Patricia counters, “You’d be surprised.”

Katherine (the beauty queen) tries to unveil her platform and gain the support of both the other women. She is trying to get people on board her effort to establish a new Congress to rewrite the Constitution. Her efforts transport the ladies back to the site of the original Continental Congress and the highly competitive compromises that had to be made to get the first document through. Katherine believes that throwing out the old one and rewriting it, with modern sensibilities considered, is the way to a new future. While it sounds preposterous at first, the more she talks and the more the audience witnesses the negotiation processes of the original Congress, it begins to take on a new appeal.

Fast moving, simply staged, wonderfully acted, this is an evening that will not disappoint. The outrageous flag-laden red evening gown worn by Katherine (thanks to designer Liz Hoover) is balanced by the white and blue costumes of Patricia and Bianca to make a patriotic statement.

That’s one choice you have this weekend.

The other play, just across the hall at the remodeled Grace Gamm Theater (formerly called the East Theater), is performed by the talented actors of BETC. RIPCORD is a funny, poignant tale of rivalry, competition and compassion. Abby and Marilyn share a room in a very nice retirement community—much to Abby’s dismay. She is used to having the room to herself and would like very much to have it back that way again. When a bed in another room opens up, she tries to persuade Marilyn to move. Marilyn has rashly made the statement that she “never gets mad.” Abby, during a trip to a haunted house, states that she “never gets scared.” So to achieve both their goals, they agree to a bet. If Abby can make Marilyn mad, Marilyn will move out. If Marilyn can scare Abby, she gets the bed closest to the window. And so it starts.

The staff and the women’s families get involved in the anger-inducing and scary situations both women devise. Watching the competition evolve, and the relationship between the women change, forms the fun of the show. And fun it is—laugh-out-loud fun. Abby is played by the always wondrous Billie McBride, who has met her match with the ebullient Anne Oberbroeckling as Marilyn. They are more than ably supported by Michael Bouchard as an orderly at the home, Lindsey Pierce and Kevin Lowry as Anne’s daughter and son-in-law, who become unwilling participants in the contest, and Josh Hartwell as Abby’s long-estranged son. This plot swings from hilarious to touching to outrageous to sweet and takes you right along with it.

The script calls for a variety of sets. Designers Tina Anderson and Ron Mueller have met this challenge by making the ladies’ room split down the center and open up to reveal the next location. It’s a brilliant way to solve the problems in the staging and creates exciting new locations every time the wall opens. The projections by Brian Shea also enhance the ability of the audience to move into a new location with the ladies.

So it’s up to you, Boulder. One or both of these await you this weekend at the Dairy Center. I’ll bet you’re man enough to handle two really good plays in one weekend—I did.

WOW factors for both shows: 9