Music ReviewsREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Dry Land

Dry Land

A Midwest Premiere

By Ruby Rae Spiegel

Directed by Hallie Gordon

At Rivendell Theatre, Chicago

Realistic female teen drama is an intense take on friendship

Set in a girls locker room of a Florida high school, Dry Land is a ferocious new play about how teen swimmers who both have a secret and whose friendship is most unlikely. Amy (Bryce Gengel) is a nasty, bossy teen who is trying to DIY an abortion. She is aided by Ester (Jessica Ervin), an insecure teen more at home as a swimmer than as a person. Both girls become united under uncommon pressure; Amy trying to abort her pregnancy while the self-loathing Ester struggles to fit in to her new school. The Amy-Ester relationship is dominated by the demanding Amy, who orders around Ester like a dictator. We see how each character struggles with their awkward relationship and Ester helps Amy despite Amy’s nasty treatment.


Much of this drama vividly deals with the complexities of female friendship, as each character deals with the pressures they feel about surviving as a teen in high school. The realism of this play, including a bloody scene, is well staged as the two players, Bryce Gengel and Jessica Ervin did yeoman work as troubled teens.

I think this play is for women, mothers and teen girls. They will relate and maybe understand the talk more than I did. The speech patterns of the girls – their tendency to talk fast and run their words together with the contemporary pop culture references, made it difficult for me (a senior male) to understand. The younger folks, especially the women, laughed at the comments while I was clueless.

Dry Land is a well staged and finely acted drama that speaks to its core audience directly. It will shock you with its realism. Teenage girls should see this powerful show. Playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel sure has a pulse for teenage girls angst.


Tom Williams

Date Reviewed: April 27, 2016

For more info checkout the Dry land page at

At  Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL, call 773-334-7728,, tickets $32 – $35,  Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Saturday matinee at 4pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through May 28, 2016