Jason Compton and Recy Love in Broom Street Theater's <i>The Waiting Room</i>
It's a familiar pattern: Set a goal, try to reach it, struggle, become bitter and maybe try again. At some point it becomes clear that some dreams aren't very achievable and others aren't worth the trouble. Michael Tooher's The Waiting Room, which just finished its run at Broom Street Theater, illustrates these points through stagehands at a concert venue.
The seasoned stagehands and central characters, the Steward (Bryan Royston) and Yum-Yum (Paul Lorentz), have reached their goals and realized that the hard work is not all it's cracked up to be. They are joined by an ambitious theater student (Recey Longingo) and a backstage groupie (Jenna Side), both of whom are young and full of aspirations. With sporadic appearances by Philly (Jason Compton), Nic (Manny Jones) and a venue security member (Jacob Nelson), the plot follows the Steward and Yum-Yum as they discuss their past and their current experiences behind the scenes of concerts. Both characters have seen terrible accidents and met unforgettable people, but now they find themselves napping between sets and losing their passion. Their bitterness is relatable, and the dialogue is clever and often filled with sarcasm.
Jason Compton's portrayal of nervous-wreck type was a high point. Aside from staying in character the most throughout the show, he was an affecting mix of anxiety-ridden workaholic and broken dreamer. Philly, another stagehand in a similar situation as Yum-Yum and the Steward, steals the spotlight with his dark monologues about getting lost in fantasies about life in show business. Paul Lorentz's Yum-Yum emanates great sense of regret, accompanied by anger that explodes intermittently. To counter that anger, the Steward is silently regretful, a man who used to believe strongly in his career but reached the end of the line too soon.
Short and sweet, this play dragged me into a dream state of sorts, but some of the dialogue's obscenity seemed unnecessarily offensive. Though this language may have been intended to highlight the stress and anger certain characters feel, it was a bit distracting.
But overall, The Waiting Room nails the arc of a dream gone wrong. As one of the characters notes, "Some days you make like a bandit; some days it's your day in the barrel."