Washed Up on the Potomac is comedy character study.

The cast of ‘Washed Up on the Potomac’ (L-R: Jessica Bates*, Max Forman-Mullin, Melissa Quine*, Cole Alexander Smith*, Vincent Randazzo*). Photo by Ken Levin

WASHED UP ON THE POTOMAC: Comedy by Lynn Rosen. Directed by José Zayas. SF Playhouse, @ The Custom Made Theatre, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco, 2nd Floor, CA. 415-677-9596, or www.sfplayhouse.org/sfph/2017-2018- season/washed-up-on-the-potomac/.

 August 8th to September 1, 2018.

Washed Up on the Potomac is comedy character study. Rating: ★★★☆☆

The opening night audience of Washed up on the Potomac at the intimate 99 seat custom Made Theater was treated to a version of the adage “The show must go on.”  The actor schedule to play the role of Sherri left the play three days before opening night. Melisa Quine was brought in and played the role with script in hand and won over the audience with an excellent performance. Fortunately during much of her time on stage she was seated at a desk. Never-the-less her face to face scenes with other members of the cast at center stage made one forget she held the script.

Two of the three scenes take place in the basement office of Washington D.C. advertising agency where Sherri, Kate (Jessica Bates), Mark (Vincent Randazzo) and “That Guy” Maxx Forman-Mullin work as proofreaders. Their uptight boss is Giorgio (Cole Alexander Smith).

Two major incidences propel the play. One, the body of a woman that has washed up on the Potomac River may be a former employee that has disappeared. Two, an undefined major proofreading error has been costly to a client and someone will be fired. Will it be Kate, Mark, “That Guy” or Sherri? “That Guy” spends most of his time behind a frosted glass panel and does not appear until the second scene but adds a touch of much needed pathos with his entrance.

Kate and  Mark are ‘losers’ still trying to be more than proofreaders. Kate, who is close to forty years old, still has aspirations of being a rocker and performs evenings in dives throughout the city. Twenty nine year old Mark is a no talent writer/poet who is in love with Kate. Taciturn reclusive Sherri is still living with a domineering mother whose telephone conversations are exasperating. Mark’s gentle characteristics are only suggested through his origami birds.

The monotony of proofreading is symbolized by the author or director inserting scenes with Kate, Mark and Sherri performing their repetitive actions to the beat of a metronome. They do interact vocally but only superficially since each has their own personae to protect. The erratic entrance and exits of Cole Alexander as the boss Giorgio offers laughs with a touch of vindictiveness.

Unfortunately the clumsy staging of the second scene that takes place in a disco dive with Kate singing (or lip-synching) playing an electric guitar is only partially effective. It does introduce a possible other side of Sherri’s nature by suggesting that she wrote Kate’s song.  The defects in this scene are mitigated by “That Guy” almost connecting with a lonely Sherri.

The play is a character study partially based on author Lynn Rosen’s previous experience as a proofreader. The ending seems confusing but gives Melissa Quine an opportunity to display her superb acting ability honed within 4 days of reading the script.

Running time is about 100 minutes without an intermission.

CAST: Sherri, Melissa Quine; Giorgio, Cole Alexander Smith; That Guy, Max Forman-Mullin; Kate, Jessica Bates; Mark, Vincent Randazzo

CREATIVE TEAM: Director, José Zayas; Scenic Designer, Heather Kenyon; Costume Designer, Madeline Berger; Sound Designer, Sarah Witsch; Lighting Designer,   Sophia Craven; Properties Designer, Bethany Wu; Projections Designer, Angela Knutson; Assistant Director, Mark Thomas Johnson; Stage Manager, Kat Bausch.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworlim2.com

The cast of ‘Washed Up on the Potomac’ (L-R: Jessica Bates*, Max Forman-Mullin, Melissa Quine*, Cole Alexander Smith*, Vincent Randazzo*). Photo by Ken Levin.