Daphne, a recent divorcee who has been out of the workforce for 32 years, is newly hired at Pennywise Family Grocery. She’s now working alongside veteran employee Shirl, Martha, a surly teen with big dreams, and Tanya, the assistant junior manager who constantly reminds everyone who’s in charge. Though these women could not be more different, Check Me Out is really about the ties that bind people together in this excellent play about female friendship that transcends age, past, or background.
The all-female cast is two mother and daughter pairs, which adds a familial depth to the relationships between characters. Janelle Jorde is wonderful as the annoyingly chipper and rule-abiding, yet still lovable, Tanya, a hilarious foil for Morgan Alexandra Donald’s cantankerous Martha. Liz Allison-Jorde is instantly magnetic as the upbeat and kind Shirl, who is often the butt of the joke but doesn’t care. Blair Wensley truly shines as Daphne, who can’t remember how to use her smartphone and is upbeat about staff icebreakers, but is never played for laughs. All these women come together and form strong friendships in beautiful and surprising ways.
Writer and director Trevor Schmidt deserves so much credit here, too; he writes about ordinary people working in an ordinary place but their big dreams and past hurts bring them together and relate them wholly to not just each other, but everyone watching. Just when we think we understand these characters, as the story moves on, we learn more about them and our perceptions change. His play is sweet but never schmaltzy, wickedly funny, and riveting to watch from start to finish.