Dr Ride’s American Beach House

Matilda (Erin Markey) and Harriet (Kristen Sieh) embrace on the rooftop in the Ars Nova production of Liza Birkenmeier’s Dr. Ride’s American Beach House at Greenwich House. Original photo by Ben Arons Photography.
Was life really like this in the American Midwest back in the eighties?

By Andrew Andrews

After an evening of waiting tables, Harriet and Matilda crawl out the top window of a St. Louis house museum onto the roof.

Drinking beer, spying on neighbors with binoculars, and throwing humorous, backhanded insults at each other, the long-time friends are here to listen to radio broadcasts about Dr. Sally Ride’s first flight on Space Shuttle Challenger the next morning.

Occasionally interrupted by the museum’s simple-minded caretaker, Norma, Harriet and Matilda reminisce about their promising past, speculating about its deterioration into their dead-end present.

Friction builds when Matilda tells Harriet she’s invited a friend to join them, and when the butch Meg appears, the ensuing sexual tension complicates the interaction.

Set in 1983, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House takes us back to the era of boom boxes, the original Mom jeans, and suppressed sexual identity across the country.

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Andrew Andrews attended Dr Ride’s American Beach House at Ars Nova at Greenwich House in New York on Friday, November 1, 2019 @ 8:00pm to write this review.

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