The time is the not-too-distant future; Paul and Janine Carter live in the best of smart homes designed—and monitored—by iDisney, a kinder, gentler version of George Orwell’s Big Brother, along with their baby son, Paul Jr.
No, it isn’t an original premise … but what lifts Ruby Tuesday above every other dramatic dystopian vision is Hoppe’s Ionescu-like stream-of-consciousness monologues in which both Paul and Janine each indulge: the language is gorgeous and the delivery spot-on. Paul speaks of the “white-water feel of a finely tuned commute” and rhapsodizes about his “sperm of wonder, sperm of gold,” while Janine admits that she “takes refuge in the emotional turmoil of others” via television and wonders “why do I feel so alone when there are so many voices and faces in the air?” These monologues tend to be a little longer than they need to be, but Hoppe is easily forgiven as the audience drinks in the wry humor lurking in nearly every sentence.
The storyline is predictable—but, again, that doesn’t seem to be the point of the play. The couple cannot talk to each other in an environment where telephones, tablets, television, and the house itself keep talking to them. They eventually come to admit—through the intervention of a third character—that religion is more than an archaic concept (“God doesn’t live in a post office”) and that at the end of the day the convenience of their lives may not justify the fear their controlled world generates.
Alison Weller and Matt Sullivan are excellent choices to play the Carters. Sullivan is goofy—and poignant when he is given the opportunity to reflect on his situation. Weller’s Janine walks a fine line between who she is and who she wants to be, and allows the audience to believe in her self-realization.. Darlene Van Alstyne is elegant and cool in her role as the disruptor of the Carter household, and Susan Winslow vibrates with energy.
Hoppe’s talent both as playwright and director are evident in Ruby Tuesday, and the Cape Rep has another winner with this off-season hit.