The Providence of Neighboring Bodies @ Underbelly Cowgate

If you’re feeling lonely, Leave It To Beaver

Review by Deborah Klayman | 24 Aug 2018

North Providence, Rhode Island is one of the smallest towns in the smallest state in the USA. On her balcony, Dora sips coffee and dreams of friendship, while her overwrought neighbour Ronnie can only focus on taking just the right photograph. An incisive examination of the disunited state of America, Jean Ann Douglass’ sharp script hones in on the reality of loneliness and the perceived threat of “the other”.

Lori Elizabeth Parquet is utterly captivating as Dora, an energetic overthinker who has planned the day’s interaction to a tee. In contrast, Amy Staats’ Ronnie is beautifully awkward as her anxious, cash-strapped neighbour, who is desperately trying to lure her first Airbnb customer to her modest flat. As the two finally connect across their adjoining balconies, Dora finally gets what she has been hoping for. She resolves that nothing will come between the two new friends – not their differences, not an accident and certainly not a suspicious stranger. 

The Providence of Neighboring Bodies is both extremely funny and provocative, using the absurd to point out the thorny underbelly of bigotry and xenophobia while highlighting how isolated we are in the current political climate. Parquet, Staats and Dinah Berkeley (who plays Jane) are meticulous performers, each fully embodying their characters and playing them with utter sincerity, despite the surreal setting. The dialogue is cleverly crafted and skilfully executed, with expert direction by Jess Chayes, masterful set design by Carolyn Mraz and wonderful costumes by Evan Prizant.

A piece that challenges as well as entertaining you throughout, this is an entirely unique play that will make you think, and leave you wanting more.

The Providence of Neighboring Bodies, Underbelly (Belly Button), 3-26 Aug (not 13), 2.30pm, £9-11

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