by Margaretha Heidel
photos by Joe Epstein
What kind of life lessons can one learn on the roof? What kind of clarity comes to you when you are above it all, on a roof, looking down on the mess of the world you know?
The amazing Richard Masur is paired with a most enchanting newcomer, Matilda Lawler, to help us understand what can happen over the course of a few seasons in one’s life. An unlikely friendship develops as we see them grow to care for one another. Is Masur the perfect foil or is it the other way around?
Bernard, played with incredible nuance by Masur, has his routine down. He climbs out the bedroom window, cooler in hand, sits on his picnic chair and tries to forget There he sits with no one to share his pain with except his friend Jim (Beam) and a wife inside who hasn’t been his partner for decades. Enter (or should I say exit) from her bedroom window, here comes Rory. Out of his comfort zone he is kicked by this charming and annoying little girl he wants nothing to do with. And what a mouth she has! Kids these days…if only he had one to complain about. Oh the generation gap we have here!
Through many hilarious moments we realize that both have a voice you want to hear. You learn their stories about what goes on from within their homes and you see a beautiful friendship blossom. Rory, as outspoken and precocious as they come, says at one point to Bernard “You know, we only overlap a little bit, this makes our time together special.” To which he replies, “What do you mean?” and she goes on to explain how she doesn’t have much of a past and he doesn’t have much of a future so they should value their time together because the overlap won’t be for long. Out of the mouths of babes!
In this delicious overlap we find that life isn’t as easy and carefree for Rory that we would hope for and Bernard, well, he has some problems himself. To see him finally open up to this little girl puts it all in such a different perspective. Her reactions are indeed childlike and lacking in what you would find in a character closer to Bernard’s age, so the moments are all the more moving. His issues play out like a taught violin weeping a gorgeous melody. One that has just now been brought out of the case. One that has needed to be played for quite some time. The performances are so spot on you want it to continue, but you know that it can’t. Things change, as always.
I like to think that Rory will remember Bernard her whole life. She will remember this period of flux, moving to a new town and everything that went with it in her family life. I think she will think of him at graduation, or whenever she hears a song from Grease. Maybe she will have a moment when she is 40 and she hears someone mention the name Chrissy. I like to think, or maybe it’s just a hope of mine, that everyone has a person that is in their lives for a season, or two, that makes an imprint on the rest of their life. This play will help you remember that person and these two couldn’t do a better job of it.
Perfect together, but only for a ‘season’.
Tickets are available at www.milesquaretheater.org.