“Ripcord” is not all fun and games. In the process of this tour de farce we learn that these characters harbor painful memories that continue to haunt them.
Say what you want to about Marilyn and Abby: One won’t shut up to save her life, and the other wouldn’t open up if her life depended on it.
But there is this about these two as well: Together, they make Grace and Frankie look like Junior Leaguers.
Partly, Abby Binder and Marilyn Dunne outshine Nexflix’s favorite bickering duo because playwright David Lindsay-Abaire simply serves up a sharper and more ruthlessly funny story line in “Ripcord.”
But mostly it is because Lindsay-Abaire had the good sense to chose the Hippodrome for the Florida premiere of his wicked comedy/drama about two women in an assisted living facility who declare total war on one another — and recognize no Geneva Convention niceties when it comes to the rules of engagement.
Which is to say that Sara Morsey and Nell Page were born to play Abby and Marilyn. The parts could have been written for them. And the Hippodrome has the Morsey/Page franchise: the former having performed on Hipp stages for more than 20 years, and the latter for 45 years.
“This is some kind of weird S&M kind of relationship,” Scotty, an affable but exasperated employee of the facility, tells Abby and Marilyn after their double-dare-you bets and ultimatums begin to spin wildly out of control.
So what else is new? Anybody who has ever seen these two formidable ladies share a stage in other Hipp productions already knows that.
Like Greta Garbo, Morsey’s Abby just wants to be alone. She shuns companionship, fends off compassion with sarcasm and repels every would-be roommate who has ever had the misfortune to be assigned to that second bed.
Oh, yeah, and Abby’s lost her sense of taste, which helps her disposition not at all.
Enter Marilyn. Relentlessly cheerful, endlessly chattering, determined to befriend her new roomie no matter what — and she snores.
“You’re not one for subtlety,′ Marilyn deadpans when Abby declares she wants her new roommate gone. But as it turns out, neither is Marilyn.
What follows between these two spry combatants is an increasingly improbable series of unfortunate events involving zombies, kidnapping, parachutes, invasion of privacy, mugging, rope tricks and — perhaps most shocking of all — one filling in the other’s Sudoku puzzles.
But “Ripcord” is not all fun and games. In the process of this tour de farce we learn that both women harbor painful memories that continue to haunt them and shape their relationships with each other and the rest of the world.
Backing up this dynamic dueling duo is an able cast of enablers. Logan Wolfe, the aforementioned Scotty, spends much of his time trying to convince Abby that he can act as well as he can fold hospital corners. You decide.
As Colleen, Marilyn’s up-for-anything daughter, Laura Shatkus proves that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. As long as she has her safe word, nothing is out of bounds for this loyal offspring. Less game, and beyond funny, is Niall McGinty’s turn as Colleen’s hubby, Derek. “It’s like our wedding night all over again,” he wails after a particularly painful showdown in the park.
And then there’s Bryan Mercer, whose short but poignant appearance as estranged son Benjamin goes a long way toward explaining the reason for Abby’s self-imposed isolation.
“When did you get so” bitter, he asks his mom.
“In dribs and drabs,” she retorts.
Maybe, but in close combat, Morsey and Page do nothing in dribs and drabs.