1. Stage

Review: 'The Roommate' at American stage breathes new life into the odd couple trope

Amy Resnick, left plays Robyn, the mismatched housemate of Sharon, played by Annie Fitzpatrick, in American Stage’s production of The Roommate. Courtesy of Joey Clay photography
Published Mar. 22

ST. PETERSBURG — Mismatched personality comedies will always get a laugh. Since The Odd Couple and before, sticking an uptight person with a free spirit is a recipe for success.

But there has to be a way to set it apart. That's what playwright Jen Silverman aims for in The Roommate at American Stage, billed as Frankie and Grace meets Breaking Bad. It's clear there will be a shift in personalities and something illegal will happen. The idea of transformation is the fresh thing here.

The two-person play pairs Sharon (Annie Fitzpatrick), a divorced housewife who needs a roommate to share her Iowa home, with Robyn (Amy Resnick), a New Yorker with a mysterious past, who has clearly moved to what she considers the middle of nowhere to make a fresh start. They're both in their mid-50s but couldn't be more different.

The play, directed by Kristen Clippard, is set entirely in Sharon's home, decorated with fruit-patterned wallpaper, multiple teapots and a rocking chair. She wears sensible shoes and khakis, while Robyn sports purple hair and a rocker-hippie hybrid look.

Sharon is shocked by Robyn. She can't believe Robyn came from the Bronx, because she's heard it's dangerous and "you're a woman." When Robyn tells her she's a vegan, Sharon doesn't quite know what that means. Robyn smokes pot, which Sharon lumps in with all "drugs." In turn, Robyn picks up on Sharon's fear of everything.

Perhaps the only way to set up a mismatch is create these caricatures. As a woman in my forties who has lived in cities my entire life, it was hard to accept the extent of Sharon's naivete.

But the actors turn the caricatures into real people. Fitzpatrick captures Sharon's complexities as a woman whose eternal cheer is starting to wear her out. She's eager to please, but something is bubbling beneath the surface, coming out in bits of underlying snark. Her moments of truth are touching.

Resnick's Robyn is clearly covering up a checkered past. She's gruff, somewhat aloof and acts like a teenager. She's dynamic, too, a person hiding inside herself.

Their comedic timing drew tons of laughs. They use every inch of the stage and perform real tasks like slicing apples and making coffee. They play records and in one very effective scene, dance with each other.

Once the initial onslaught of look-how-different-we-are jokes subside, the characters become more layered. Sharon comes to face the idea that her son, a designer in New York, is annoyed by her. More facts about Robyn's past come out, too. Their back stories round out the plot.

Sharon's descent into illicit activities are at first influenced by Robyn, but then she abruptly dives off the deep end into waters that Robyn won't venture. Her transformation is so dramatic that it seems unbelievable, but she does it so gleefully that the audience was guffawing at her antics. And as it's happening, a more subtle, poignant change happens in Robyn.

That change is the meaningful difference that sets this show apart from the odd couples that came before.

If you go

The Roommate runs through April 7 at American Stage. $44-$54. 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-7529. For showtimes, visit


  1. Kevin James appears in his 2018 Netflix special "Don't Never Give Up." Courtesy of KC Bailey
    Plus, ‘Once on This Island,’ the Tampa Bay Symphony and the Florida Orchestra.
  2. John Leguizamo will bring his one-man show "Latin History for Morons" to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on Nov. 17. Courtesy of Matthew Murphy
    Plus, how his ‘House of Buggin’ became ‘Mad TV’ and a dream project about a Hispanic Oscar Schindler. Leguizamo’s one-man show comes to the Straz Center on Nov. 17.
  3. "Fiddler on the Roof" is at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Courtesy of Joan Marcus
    The revival of a pointed story about tradition stays close to the source. | Review
  4. Comic John Crist has canceled his upcoming tour, including a May 10, 2020 concert at Tampa's Yuengling Center, following a report by the Christian publication Charisma News alleging multiple instances of sexual misconduct. Courtesy of John Crist
    The viral star’s Netflix special and tour are on hold after a report alleging sexual misconduct.
  5. Julie Andrews will appear in conversation at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Nov. 13. Courtesy of Andrew Eccles
    The 84-year-old Hollywood icon will discuss her new autobiography this week at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  6. Julie Andrews arrives at the Los Angeles Philharmonic 2015-16 season opening gala at Walt Disney Concert Hall. RICHARD SHOTWELL  |  Invision/AP
    Plus, comics Jay Mohr and Cristela Alonso, the Florida Orchestra’s ‘Deep Field’ with Eric Whitacre and more.
  7. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater is undergoing a $12 million renovation/ expansion. Progress is seen here Wednesday, October 30, 2019. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The 6,000-square-foot entryway opens this weekend, showcasing the venue’s most extensive facelift to date.
  8. Jobsite Theater's "The Thanksgiving Play" features Caitlin Eason, Giles Davies, Dana Mauro and Adam Workman. It runs through Nov. 17 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for Performing Arts in Tampa. Courtesy of Jobsite Theater
    Larissa FastHorse’s witty satire at Jobsite Theater mocks political correctness as well as theater itself. | Review
  9. "Fiddler on the Roof" will come to the Straz Center in Tampa on Tuesday as part of its 2019-20 Broadway series. Courtesy of Joan Marcus
    Plus, Mo’Nique, Bianca Del Rio and more.
  10. Bianca Del Rio will perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on Thursday. Courtesy of Rene Koala
    The ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ winner will headline Tampa’s Straz Center on Halloween night.