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Rinse, Repeat

Domenica Feraud and Florencia Lozano†††††† photos by Jenny Anderson

 

Rinse, Repeat

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† By Ron Cohen

 

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 meal alone.

 

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 being eaten.

 

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 their wedding.

 

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 together.

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.

 


Portia

 

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

Off-Broadway play

The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center

480 West 42nd Street

212 279 4200

TicketCentral.com

Playing until August 24