Sarasota’s FST stages ‘The Roommate’ by Jen Silverman

Rita Rehn, left, and Jo Twiss star in the Florida Studio Theatre’s production of “The Roommate.”
Rita Rehn, left, and Jo Twiss star in the Florida Studio Theatre’s production of “The Roommate.” PUBLICITY PHOTO

At first glance, the plot of the new play “The Roommate” makes it sound like yet another light stage sit-com, the latest rehash of “The Odd Couple.” Circumstance leads a divorced woman in her 50s to advertise for a roommate. She finds one, but it seems the two have nothing in common.

It certainly sounds familiar, even trite, but Gavin Cameron-Webb says it’s fresh, warm and appealing.

“It’s a comedy in the general sense,” he said. “You could call it a comedy with an edge. Besides the comedy, which I think is very well written, it’s also a kind of a love story.”

Cameron-Webb is directing the upcoming Florida Studio Theatre production.

“The Roommate” comes from playwright Jen Silverman. Silverman has said she was drawn to the plot and the characters of “The Roommate” because she’s fascinated be people undergoing transitions and transformations.

It premiered last year at the prestigious Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky.

“As far as I know, this is the only other production,” Cameron-Webb said, although several other productions are in the works.

“I think you’ll be seeing this play a lot in the future,” Cameron-Webb said, “because Jen has created not just situations, but characters that are well-drawn. They’re very contrasting and contemporary characters.”

The two-hour, two-act play features just the title character and her landlord. The actors are Jo Twiss, a Florida Studio Theatre newcomer, and Rita Rehn, whom FST audiences will recognize from “Over the River and Through the Woods,” “In the Book Of,” “Sylvia” and “Always Patsy Cline.” Rehm has roles on Broadway and Off-Broadway on her resume.

Cameron-Webb is also an FST veteran. He directed “The Hound of the Baskervilles” a year ago.

In “The Roommate,” Sharon (Twiss) is a long-time resident of Iowa City, Iowa. She’s divorced and her adult son lives in New York, where he’s a fashion designer.

“Money is running a bit thin.” Cameron-Webb said, so she advertises for a roommate. “But I think she’s a bit lonely, too.

She meets Robyn (Rehn), who seems to be a down-to-earth choice for a roommate. It doesn’t take long after Robyn moves in, though, before Sharon realizes that big-city transplant Robyn is nothing like the conservative ladies in Sharon’s book club. But Sharon’s determined to get to know Robyn, and eventually they become friends.

It’s that burgeoning friendship that constitutes what Cameron-Webb calls the “love story” in the play.

“They don’t see eye-to-eye at first,” he said. “But in the end they’re close friends. You could say soul mates.”

Details: July 6-Aug 7, Keating Theatre at Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave, Sarasota. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. No performances July 15-16. $25-$39. 941-366-9000, floridastudiotheatre.org.

Marty Clear: 941-708-7919, @martinclear