SALT LAKE CITY — If you’re looking for a lighter option than my Fringe recommendation in my previous review, The Rental may be the offering for you. Presented by The TwoFifteen Project, The Rental is a sweet and simple play that looks into the lives of four quirky friends the night before their college graduation. The gang comes together in the place they first met—the local video store—one last time before it closes. Written by Sierra DuCharme-Hansen and directed by Shawn Saunders, The Rental is chalk full of movie references, goofy humor, and friendship.
Structured like a romantic comedy, the two love interests, Caleb (played by Tristan Johnson) and Maura (played by DuCharme-Hansen) are well suited for each other and played the archetypes well. The ensemble as a whole, with sisters, Darcy (Sydney Shoell) and Leo (Eliza Shoell), had excellent chemistry, as they all seemed like they had been friends for long time. The four characters created a strong group dynamic specific to them not unlike how a real group of friends can share traits as a group. Yet, I also enjoyed the distinct personality in each individual character, and appreciated the costumes in helping to define these personalities. Each character also brought their unique brand of comedy to the piece.
Although the play was funny, the comedy seemed a bit forced and over the top at times. My only other criticism is the inconsistency between the simulation of drinking alcoholic beverages on stage and the actor’s behavior. I found it odd that after what had appeared to be a lot of alcohol consumption, the characters never really seemed that intoxicated. This discrepancy was enough to bring me out of the play and question the reality of the created world.
Ultimately, The Rental is a feel-good comedy that explores themes of the different phases of life and provides the beautiful outlook that certain phases are simply rented and eventually must be returned as people move on. This viewpoint caused me to feel nostalgia for the parts of my life I have already returned and peace in the phase I am currently renting, as well as hope for the future. This attractive perspective makes The Rental worthwhile.