Many people in hospital waiting rooms are itching to get out and on with their lives. They’re waiting to see the baby that’s been born, the family member that’s gotten into an accident or the significant other that stapled themselves with the staple gun. (We all know someone that’s been there). These people all eventually leave the room filled with magazines that have been left over the years but in “10:53” the room of dread isn’t that for Kathryn.
Kathryn (Sandra Birch) has made the hospital waiting room her new salvation in Annie Martin’s world premiere script, making it the tenth world premiere for Williamston Theatre, with direction by Tony Caselli. This place has become comforting for the mother and wife, with her husband in the nearby room, and the real world far beyond the hospital walls.
But then her daughter Zoe (Zachera Wollenberg) comes home from college, bringing an unexpected guest, her girlfriend Chris (Julia Garlotte) and Kathryn’s safe place is quickly taken over by, well, her life. Then there’s John (John Lepard), the mystery man that shows up every night at the same time, who quickly develops a relationship with Kathryn. The show follows the group as their lives unwind, watching them put the pieces back together.
Birch and Lepard have a fantastic back-and-forth that’s great fun to watch. Birch fills Kathryn with sass and wit, and swiftly moves between being the woman her daughter always knew and one that’s trying to figure out who she is now. Lepard is just a natural on that stage; he’s got such an ease when you watch. While his character, John, is a little off Lepard is fully on his game.
The intense moments never get too intense, with humor constantly being thrown in. One example is when Kathryn starts screaming and cussing at everyone, standing on top of a table no less, and you know it’s an intense moment but it’s hilarious and heartwarming. It earned Birch a clap from the audience as soon as she stormed off. Another was an oddly perfect moment at the end of Act 1 with Chris and John.
The constant Michigan references (Pumpkin Spice lattes from Biggby, stories of cider mills) and TV cracks (with a “Grey’s Anatomy” joke being a personal favorite) are an added bonus.
The set for the show is no slouch either. Bartley H. Bauer created a full-fledged waiting room in the theater. There’s a working elevator, kitchen area, but don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like a hospital waiting room. Michelle Raymond’s sound design quickly changes the channels on a TV that isn’t actually there, giving audiences clips from shows like “The Bachelorette.” Daniel C. Walker’s lighting design makes it possible to try to keep track of the days passing along, with his lighting design turning the waiting room into day and night.
The opening night audience seemed to love it as well, giving the cast a standing ovation.