and Florencia Lozano†††††† photos by Jenny Anderson
Things are pretty tense at the Tellner
household. Their 21-year-old daughter Rachel has just returned home after a
four-month stay in a hospital battling the near-fatal effects of anorexia.
Her return is actually a trial visit to see
if she now can continue her recovery at home. It means her often-preoccupied
parents Ė her father, Peter, and mother, Joan, must be constantly on their
toes, observing her, saying the right things and making sure that she eats no
The situation, drawn with great detail, in Rinse, Repeat delivers a
clinical look, almost too clinical, at the disease, its possible causes, its
symptoms and its effects, from loss of menstrual period to nightmarish fear of
binging. Thereís lots of discussion about how to eat, when to eat and whatís
But the script also offers a fairly
convincing portrayal of troubled family dynamics, giving the show greater
dramatic currency than being simply a dramatized treatise on a health problem.
Florencia Lozano, Jake Ryan Lozano, Michael Hayden and Domenica Feraud
The show furthermore puts into a double-focus
spotlight its youthful author, Domenica Feraud, who also plays its troubled
protagonist Rachel. She imbues the character with veracity and affecting
emotionality as she realizes the root of her problem lies within her home, a
mother whom she admires and loves but nevertheless has set a troublesome
example and exerted an almost toxic control over her life.†
Her mother Joan is a highly successful
lawyer, pushing Rachel toward a similar career from her early years on, even
though Rachelís own inclinations are toward a career in writing.†
Joanís own achievement has meant overcoming
her background as the daughter of poor immigrant parents from Bolivia. The
success has also entailed an over-rigorous approach to food, constant
calorie-counting and avoidance of anything that could possibly add weight to
her trim figure. Itís a compulsion further heightened by her marriage to Peter,
the son of a wealthy white family, whose mother sent her five diet books before
With Peterís trust fund depleted and his work
as an architect not booming, Joan is also the major breadwinner in the family,
adding to a sense of imbalance. Itís a situation further heightened by
suggestions of infidelities, although they are never fully developed.
The script sometimes, though, piles the
problems on a bit too heavily, and the dialog can crumble under the weight. For
example, Rachelís declaration toward the end of the play when realizing the ill
effects her motherís compulsions have had: ďMomís more successful than Dad, and
he doesnít care! But I guess you found another way to control her. Sheís the
most powerful woman in the world but sheís scared to eat a fucking bagel.Ē
Still, the cast, including author Feraud,
handles the occasional clunkers with such intensity that the drama holds
Florencia Lozano reveals layer upon layer in
the complex makeup of Joan. Joan may not be likeable, but youíll understand her
and sympathize with her.
While not as complex, Peter also becomes
vividly alive in Michael Haydenís portrayal, a father trying his uncertain best
to do what he thinks is best for his distressed daughter.
Completing the cast in solid fashion are Jake
Ryan Lozano as Rachelís brother, sympathetic but much more caught up in his own
life with his girlfriend and upcoming move to college, and the singularly named
Portia, as Rachelís wise and stern therapist.
Kate Hopkins has directed in a commendable,
clear-cut, naturalistic fashion, making good use of Brittany Vastaís set, a
sleek kitchen, almost too orderly, suggesting an attempt to keep the problems
it conveys in check.
When Rachel makes the final, hard decision on
how to recover from her affliction, getting away from that kitchen with the
hope of breaking the cycle of Ďrinse, repeat,Ē the play proves its power.
Review posted August, 2019
The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The
Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
212 279 4200
Playing until August 24