Ellen Adair* as Bex and Sarah Killough* as Maggie

the goodbye room
by Eric Gilde

March 2016, Bridge Theater on W. 54th St.

What we lose, what we hide, what we find.

the goodbye room gives us a window into the relationship of two sisters following their mother’s death. Set in a quiet Midwestern town, the play’s four characters each have a story to tell, a contemporary lens on a timeless problem. Are grieving and moving forward two sides of the same coin? Simple but heartfelt, the play explores what we hide, what we share, and the individuality of response to this most universal of human experiences.

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Press

the goodbye room
Review in Theatre is Easy
Artem Yatsunov

Through moments of underplayed domestic drama, The Goodbye Room blossoms from a glimpse at a mourning family into a universal conversation about the complexities of grieving. Playing through this weekend only, The Happy Few Theatre’s The Goodbye Room written and directed by Eric Gilde is a reprieve from the common fare of overdramatic domestic dramas. The action of this 90 minute etude focuses on two sisters, their dad, and a neighborhood friend, all coming together for the funeral of the family matriarch. The cast crafts a compelling arch of grief viewed from four varying perspectives of four very down to earth, 'every-day' people.

Among the notable accomplishments of the evening is how playwright and director Eric Gilde’s handles the topic of death. Sisters Bex (Ellen Adair) and Maggie (Sarah Killough), their father Edgar (Michael Selkirk), and Bex’s old high school beau Sebastian (Craig Wesley Divino), are all very average humans; they lead rather mundane and placid existences, punctuated by mild amusements and predictable marital or work-related disappointments. Gilde doesn’t recoil from showing us life as it really is, unglamorous and routine. Gilde’s cast all deliver commendably reserved and understated performances. As tragedy strikes, these characters don’t collapse or explode in a fanfare of fantastically frivolous emoting. Instead they are solidly real and relatable, working hard to gain perspective on what’s left of their own dwindling lives.

Selkirk plays Edgar, the with tenderness and unflustered affection, and leaves a lasting impression. Warm, giving, yet direct all at once, Selkirk is a scene stealer and owns the stage a the proverbial hearth of the whole family. Divino serves up Sebastian with cherubic smugness. Boyish and effortlessly charming, Divino breaks off a delicate self-awareness in Sebastian, too. He’s a man coming to grips with the fact that maybe his best years are already behind him. Adair as the elder sister Bex and Killough as Maggie, are as natural as two siblings could be. Adair’s Bex bustles with energy while desperately masking a deep-seated penchant for brooding. It’s as if imminent despair is, always, looming just around the corner for Bex. As the play unravels, Killough helps to unburden Bex of guilt as well as some significant feelings of unrequited sisterly affection. Killough's interpretation of Maggie paints the younger sister as self-empowered yet not without a sense of constant sacrifice for her family. Through the grace of Killough and Adair’s stage chemistry, the sisters work diligently to learn how to be better siblings for each other.

Bringing to life the titular place of farewell, set-designer Justin Spurtz craftily fits worn-in '70s décor into the partially unmasked theatrical venue; the effect is cozy familiarity. Tuned into the mood of the evening, Jacob Subotnick’s sound design is mercurial, following emotional threads with lovely straightforwardness. Jennifer Linn Wilcox's lighting design is strong, and it’s right on the money in a rather complicated space. Wilcox’s transitions are seamless and the final flourishes of the evening are particular stand-outs.

Gilde tackles a lofty goal with this uber-realistic slice-of-life play. The Goodbye Room, above all, is warm, direct and utterly human. Even when the pace lags, as it does occasionally, or a predictable line or two on the subject of grief plops out here or there, The Goodbye Room never loses sight of the humanity of death.

-Read the Review on Theatre is Easy

Whiskey Needs Respect
Review on Off-Off-Online

Ray Morgovan | March 9, 2016

Eric Gilde’s new play the goodbye room focuses on a common experience in most everyone’s life—the death of a parent—but more important, it asks the question, “What’s left of the living?” …Gilde has done an exemplary job of capturing the essence of this experience, and, as the director, creates the space for four talented actors to bring it to life.

It is a detailed re-creation that, without nuanced performances, could easily come off as flat. …However, it’s the precise manner in which Gilde wrote the dialogue, directed the actors, and how they delivered it that enhances the drama.

Michael Selkirk plays the grieving Edgar, whose wife has just passed on. Edgar has two daughters—the “good,” overworked, overwhelmed daughter Maggie (Sarah Killough) and complicated Rebecca, affectionately referred to as Bex (Ellen Adair), who married and moved to Chicago five years ago. …This sibling story has been told and retold following the death of a parent; however, it’s Gilde’s staccato dialogue, with the characters talking over one another, coupled with the generous space between the words, where the crux is to be found. Included in this drama is the affable family friend and former love interest Sebastian (Craig Wesley Divino).

Gilde’s drama touches slightly on the concept of the lingering spirit of the departed, with lights flickering or the broken stereo finally playing. It’s a welcome relief from the family drama being played out, but it’s also a hint that there is more to life than silly squabbles or playing the blame game one more time. Maybe love, as messy as it can be, transcends the boundaries of this reality to remind us of what’s important.

-Read the Full Review

the goodbye room
Review on Theatre Scene

Courtney Marie | March 14, 2016

Playwright/director Eric Gilde’s new drama, The Goodbye Room, realistically and powerfully captures a family’s journey after losing a loved one…The result is a storyline that is eye opening, stirring and poignant.

Within the confines of the relationship between older sister, Bex, played by Ellen Adair and younger sister Maggie (Sarah Killough) comes a twist on the concept of role reversal. In this case, the younger sister is more frazzled and uptight, taking on much of the responsibility, as the older sister takes a bit more of a laid-back approach when it comes to getting their mother’s affairs in order.

…It is only a matter of time before pressures explode and both women go at it — yelling, blaming each other, and withholding important pieces of information in order to spite the other. The acting is spot-on, as it accurately portrays the relationship of many sisters – with competition, jealousy, and dominance taking center stage in the quest for being the family gem. Their intensity and emotion really makes the storyline explode and challenges the audience to put themselves in their shoes — a place that we have all been at one time or another in life — and ask if we would have reacted any differently.

…Michael Selkirk plays their kindly, older father named Edgar who is trying his best to take care of his girls when his heart is breaking from losing the love of his life... His dedication and true affection for his late wife are apparent… Sebastian (Craig Wesley Divino)…is witty, charming, and allows the audience to get to know the matriarch of this family from an outside perspective.

…This play is a haunting reminder of what death can bring out for those still living. It brings out truths nobody wants to admit to, but also can be a source of healing and hope for the future. This play will leave audiences with much to think about, when it comes to dealing with family matters and forces us to take a good look in the mirror when it comes to the relationships that matter the most – and will be with us for the rest of our lives.

-Read the Full Review

A Heartfelt Family Drama in 'the goodbye room'
Review on Letters from the Mezzanine

Happy Few Theatre Company‘s new production the goodbye room, written and directed by Eric Gilde, aims to uncover what unites us in times of grief, guilt, and uncertainty, and how family bonds are so essential to our identities…

The goodbye room provides a genuine portrayal of a family dynamic. Each character is deeply sympathetic– I could see my own parents and siblings in their complex needs and conflicting responses to grief. … Gilde’s script provides insight in what is said as much as in what remains unsaid. The play also moves deftly between sadness, confusion, and joy.  It allows for the audience to observe the characters in awkward, silent confrontations as well as in boozy, late-night silliness. The company’s superb acting sets a natural, well-paced tone, as does the excellent sound and set design with an attention to detail (oily pizza plates, a frog-faced mug, a crumb-filled rug) that invests us in this family space.

- Read the Full Review


 

Cast & Creative Team

Ellen Adair* Bex
Craig Wesley Divino* Sebastian
Sarah Killough* Maggie
Michael Selkirk* Edgar

 

DIRECTED BY Eric Gilde*
STAGE MANAGER Sarah Lahue
PRODUCTION MANAGER Brittany Crowell
SOUND DESIGN Jacob Subotnick
ASSOCIATE SOUND DESIGNER Jorge Olivio
LIGHTING DESIGN Jennifer Wilcox
SET DESIGN Justin Spurtz
CREW Aidan Bose-Rosling, Amanda Chambers and Jordan Friedman
HOUSE MANAGEMENT Amina Alexander, Anna Aschliman and Aidan Bose-Rosling

 

*Member of Actors' Equity Association. Equity-approved showcase.

 

Production Photographs

All photographs by Colin Shepherd

Ellen Adair and Michael Selkirk in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair as Bex, Michael Selkirk as Edgar

 

Craig Wesley Divino and Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Craig Wesley Divino as Sebastian, Ellen Adair

 

Sarah Killough in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Sarah Killough as Maggie

 

Sarah Killough and Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Sarah Killough, Ellen Adair

 

Sarah Killough and Michael Selkirk in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Sarah Killough, Michael Selkirk

 

Michael Selkirk in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Michael Selkirk

 

Ellen Adair and Craig Wesley Divino in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair, Craig Wesley Divino

 

Ellen Adair and Sarah Killough in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair, Sarah Killough

 

Ellen Adair and Michael Selkirk in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair, Michael Selkirk

 

Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair

 

Craig Wesley Divino in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Craig Wesley Divino

 

Craig Wesley Divino and Sarah Killough in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Craig Wesley Divino, Sarah Killough

 

Sarah Killough, Craig Wesley Divino and Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Sarah Killough, Craig Wesley Divino and Ellen Adair

 

Craig Wesley Divino and Michael Selkirk in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Craig Wesley Divino, Michael Selkirk

 

Michael Selkirk in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Michael Selkirk

 

Sarah Killough and Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Sarah Killough, Ellen Adair

 

Sarah Killough in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Sarah Killough

Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair

 

Sarah Killough and Ellen Adair in Happy Few Theatre's the goodbye room
Ellen Adair, Sarah Killough


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