North Coast Repertory Theatre’s delightful romantic-comedy “Chapatti,” about two lonely seniors looking to change their lives, is full of heart.
Directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Judith Ivey and penned by Irish playwright Christian O’Reilly, “Chapatti” finds a sure-fire way to delve deep into issues seniors face, using humor to break down barriers and allow surprising things to happen in this charming story. Actors Mark Bramhall as Dan, and Annabella Price as Betty are wonderful in their roles.
Dan has recently lost his wife; the love of his life. Every waking day is torture for him. Were it not for this best friend – his dog Chapatti – Dan could not face each new day. Meanwhile, a few doors down, Betty is also experiencing sad times, which also include trying to find homes for her dozen kittens.
Betty pours out her sorrows as if auditioning for an Academy Award, but then balances each with an amusing giggle. Dan shuffles through this house finding himself distraught at every turn. He talks incessantly to Chapatti asking him about food choices as if the dog could answer him at any moment.
Dan and Betty become aware of each other through the local veterinarian’s office where they each have a different agenda. That leads to more run-ins, like when Dan comes across a situation with a dead cat he hopes is not one of Betty’s. She becomes attracted to Dan and finds excuses to pop in on him.
Soon Betty learns how much he is suffering from losing his wife, and the extreme ideas he has in mind. Slowly they begin to enjoy one another’s company and find their friendship brings them a little healing. Dan loves Betty’s giggles, which he claims give him moments to breathe. Betty thinks of Dan as perhaps the romantic male she’s been missing in her lonely life. Things look good until their comfy relationship comes to a crashing roadblock when Betty discovers Dan’s next plan.
“Chapatti” may seem like an offbeat story, but it’s far from that with its message about a reality that many seniors may face when a spouse dies. The way these characters are portrayed and the chemistry between them create a warm, heartfelt story. Fortunately, NCRT and director Ivey discovered the perfect actors to bring it to life.
▪ IF YOU GO: ‘Chapatti’ runs through Nov. 15 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets from $39 at (858) 481-1055. northcoastrep.org