Maytag Virgin is Colonial Players of Annapolis’s first show since the pandemic forced theaters to close. Directed by Edd Miller, it is offered livestreamed as well as to limited, masked, and social-distanced in-theater audiences. Audrey Cefaly’s play, about two neighbors in an Alabama town, is a quietly touching drama of intimacy and relationships.
Laura Gayvert gives an inquisitiveness to Lizzy, looking through new neighbor Jack Key’s boxes when he briefly steps inside and offering to help him move in. She admits her curiosity, saying “I’m being nosy.” She also speaks her mind, talking about their dying town and rebuffing him when he calls her “ma’am.” Later, she opens up to him, gradually revealing secrets about her marriage and the failings she sees in herself.
Ben Carr plays Jack, whom Lizzy calls “Mr. Key” for most of the play, with an independence that hides deep pain and feelings. He gently fends off her attempts to help him move in and to remove the Maytag dryer from off his front porch. At times, their conversation becomes heated, as when he tells her to “loosen up” and care less about what her neighbors do. Other times, they have a pleasant back-and-forth style of jokes and teasing. Slowly, he shows more about himself, sharing about his own marriage and why he moved to this town. He gives his most powerful performance at the end, revealing his feelings and his need in a moving way. Watching Gayvert and Carr together, as their relationship changes, is engaging.
Set Designer Edd Miller has created a set that works well for the camera as well as for the health requirements, showing the front porches of two adjoining homes and the lawn in between. Arranged by Properties Designer and Set DecoratorConstance Robinson, Jack’s side is eclectic, with a Maytag dryer and hammock on the porch, and a statue of the Virgin Mary nearby windchimes. In the beginning, a pile of moving boxes, chairs, and tables sits in his side of the lawn; later, a small table with a tablecloth and two-seater chair replace the pile. Lizzy’s front porch has clothes hanging from a clothesline and a tree stump to reach them. Costume Designer Beth Terranova outfits the characters in casual clothes, usually a T-shirt and khakis for Jack and simple dresses or shorts for Lizzie. For a Christmas scene, Jack has on a festive sweater and reindeer antlers, while Lizzie wears a more formal dress.
Lighting Designer John Purnell creates nice effects throughout the performance, bathing the stage in blue light for late-night scenes, and throwing lightning flashes and the look of rain during a storm. The light darkens in between scenes. Sound Designer Kaelynn Bedsworth plays music in between many scenes and has the sound of thunder rumbling just before a storm, as well as windchimes tinkling and the dryer buzzing. Live Stream Technicians Wes Bedsworth and David Cooper expertly switch cameras to get just the right angle, ensuring audiences watching at home can see everything.
Edd Miller does a wonderful job as director, making the physical distance between the actors feel natural. They navigate the stage well and help create the illusion that only the two of them are there. After a year of their stage being dark, seeing the Colonial Players stage a full production is a joy, whether in the theater or livestreamed.
Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.
Maytag Virgin plays through April 25, 2021, at the Colonial Players of Annapolis – 108 East Street, Annapolis, MD, and is also available for livestream viewing. For tickets, call the box office at 410-268-7373 or visit their website.