A ROOM OF ONE'S own is a preoccupation for all ages. When the room is only a barren subterranean stage for three women more or less abandoned by their husbands, it really can't be big enough for more than one of them. S.J. Bergman's one act play uses that fact as an excuse to wander through the past lives and possible futures of three working class London women who range from early middle-age to terminal old-age.
The plot is mainly an excuse for a series of monologues. Two people who want to be tenants of the same barren apartment meet in it. They gradually spill out their past lives, the failures of their marriages, and their desires for companionship. If Last Tango in Paris without sex is imaginable, this is it. But a third woman is always present and the two potential roommates are in their late fifties, maybe eighties. Both are women and there's no sex in the whole thing except for the various tales of use and misuse at husbands' hands.
Mrs. Pedley, Mrs. Beesley and Lil are a potentially dreary and painful triumvirate. Each has a story to tell, and each tells it in detail; the two older women end their stories by recounting how their husbands left them. Lil's husband, who comes home drunk every night because there happens to be a pub on the corner where his bus lets him off after work each night, seems to be headed down the same track.
But Joanna Blum (Mrs. Pedley), Patricia Shallcross (Lil), and Susie Fisher (Mrs. Beesley), don't get bogged down in the bathos of their roles. The implicit humor in their outlooks saves the play from becoming a light-weight tragedy. The three of them also avoid most of the pitfalls of an affected English accent. Susie Fisher becomes florid at points, but she never leaves her character as Mrs. Beesley.
This is the kind of play meant for the Loeb Ex. The Loeb's failure to stage more student-written work is a pity, and its certainly no cause for sorrow that they've scheduled Room For One Woman, written and directed by S.J. Bergman, a Harvard Med School student and North House tutor.