In Basement Folly, a world premiere at Theatre 40, there’s someone down below, and she (or he) is causing a major marital rift. When wife Aubrey (Caroline Westheimer) doesn’t want husband Adrian (Matt Landig) to go downstairs and get a bottle of wine, he thinks something’s up. When she proposes sex to distract him, he’s sure of it.
After an extended don’t-go-in-the-basement dance, Aubrey comes clean. She admits she doesn’t know who’s moved in, but she’s way too caring, or maybe chicken, to kick them out. And, if Adrian had just fixed the lock on the basement door, they wouldn’t be in this situation. Parry, thrust, shift blame. Yup, it’s a marriage.
This folly à deux grows to three, then four, then five, as characters who have been discussed and fought about show up at the front door. All three doorbell rings are ignored to the point that the audience is tempted to leap onstage and open the door themselves, although finally everyone does make it inside.
There’s the couple’s appropriately agitated daughter Alex (Tammy Mora). She’s had a fight with her live-in partner and unfortunately needs to move back in with her frustrating and self-absorbed parents. Since her bedroom has been turned into an office, she asks for the basement.
Then Adrian’s down-on-his-luck friend Ray (the scene-stealing Michael Robb) shows up making the same request, and the marital spat goes viral. Ray has alienated Aubrey when crashing with them previously and she’s determined not to allow him back into their lives. She’s not too anxious to have her daughter back, either.
When Alex’s roommate Kim (Kat Kemmet) appears toward the end, the wheels start to get put back on the bus. Everyone has a chance to show that they aren’t just caricatures, but capable of change and empathy—to a certain extent.
Carol Becker’s direction is frenetic, and even when in conversation the players rarely sit still or speak calmly.
This fight over a basement, by playwright David Datz, is actually a fight about family, home and love, with a touch of the greater forces of society and the economy. Who most deserves the space? The characters all have their own strongly held positions, giving the fun romp that is Basement Folly a deeper meaning.