FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – One room in a rest home. Two women. One is barbed wire. One is apple pie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, that’s the starting point for a tale about two wounded ducks.

One claims to never get angry. The other says she does not scare.

The two make a bet. The winner gets to stay in the room in the bed closest to the window with the best scenic view from Bristol Place Senior Living Facility.

Peninsula Players Theatre takes on “Ripcord” with its forever goal: Pursuit of excellence.

Design images.

The challenges this time include a visit to a haunted house and an episode of skydiving – attention getters for the audience.

Also getting attention is the acting, particularly the woman who is the tangle of barbed wire – unapproachable no matter from what angle. Around Abby Binder everyone else turns, and Meg Thalken embraces the definition of mean with consummate acting skills.

The “show” is billed as a comedy. Music associated with it – some original to the production – is perky, with novelty flavors. There are big laughs along the way, including for some ripe verbiage from Abby. David Lindsay-Abaire also tosses in a cheap joke about a wedding night. Boo. Yea: The give-and-take between the two women is laced with humor, lightened by Charlotte Booker’s cheery aura in portraying the unsinkable Marilyn Dunne, a foil of Abby. But heavy duty hardware of life is a constant presence. The point of the play turns around drama.

In the climactic scene, Meg Thalken fires off cannon balls as Abby unloads about being a person done wrong, wrong, wrong for long, long, long.

The senior living facility is a character. It’s a nice place. That’s defined by Xavier Edward King in the role of Scotty, a kind and smart and caring caregiver. Scotty is a kind of gentle mediator between two warring nations.

The haunted house is another character. It’s a creepy place. That’s defined by the support cast of Ryan Hallahan, Eva Nimmer and David Corlew in spooky make-up and costuming and behaving as sick-o types who make the flesh crawl. The other roles – everyday life roles – of the three speak to the versatility of the actors and how director Patrick New finesses the performances.

The skydiving scene is demanding to create. It’s a comedy caper on high – a second level above the stage – with the plume of a full parachute adding to the scenic atmosphere. The title of the play seems to factor in the scene, but the ripcord meaning is symbolic – and what play title is not symbolic? The ripcord is elsewhere as David Lindsay-Abaire explores pitfalls in family relationships.

The chess match between Abby and Marilyn sparkles because the actors and director pour years of experience into the performances. Meg Thalken’s Abby is the irresistible object, and Charlotte Booker’s Marilyn is the immovable force. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, they are two pros in prime roles delivering the goods.

Wednesday’s opening-night audience gave the production a standing ovation.

Playwright’s fare.


Running time: One hour, 54 minutes

Remaining performances: 8 p.m. July 28-30, 7:30 p.m. July 31; 8 p.m. Aug. 2-6; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7; 8 p.m. Aug. 9-13; 2 p.m. Aug. 14


Creative: Playwright – David Lindsay-Abaire; director – Patrick New; costume designer – Karin Simonson Kopischke; lighting director – Guy Rhodes; scenic designer – Angela Weber Miller; sound designer – Christopher Kriz; scenic artist – Jessie Howe; stage manager – Kimberly Ann McCann; assistant stage manager – Kaitlin Kitzmiller; production manager – Paul Cook; managing director – Brian Kelsey; artistic director – Linda Fortunato

Cast (in order of appearance):

Abby Binder – Meg Thalken

Marilyn Dunne – Charlotte Booker

Scotty – Xavier Edward King

Benjamin/Lewis/Clown – Ryan Hallahan

Colleen/Woman in White – Eva Nimmer

Derek/Zombie Butler/Masked Man – David Corlew


NEXT: “I and You” by Lauren Gunderson, Aug. 17-Sept. 4.

THE VENUE: The location of Peninsula Players Theatre’s Theatre in a Garden is about atmosphere – tall cedars and pines and shoreline vistas along the bay of Green Bay. The theater house is part of a campus that includes a workshop, office, rehearsal hall, dining hall, housing and more at 4351 Peninsula Players Road. Flowers and other decorative foliage grace footpaths that weave through the grounds, which have been extended to the south. Driving along Peninsula Players Road and passing farms and trees, the thought may occur: “This theater is in an unusual place.” The 621-seat theater house features Door County limestone in its interior décor. When the weather is friendly, the wooden slats of the side walls are rolled open to the outside. For cool fall nights, the theater floor is equipped with radiant heating for comfort. While the company dates back 83 years, the theater building is of 2006 vintage. The playhouse and theater were built on the site of the previous structure, which got wobbly with age. The location on the shores of Green Bay provides playgoers with pre-show picnicking and viewing the sunset. Here’s a theatrical rarity: The Players’ website provides sunset times.