by Emily Dressler
The Western Reserve Playhouse in Richfield is an old barn, which is pretty hardcore Ohio. The barn was built in 1886. Fun accessories like the stage, a bar and bathrooms were added later.
When you walk into the front entrance, which is actually the barn’s original side entrance, you are in the small lobby/box office area. From there, a larger set of doors leads to the main barn, or theater area, which consists of the stage, about 65 seats, a bar and, of course, restrooms.
The restrooms are in the back behind the seats. At the women’s room entrance, thick black curtains hang at an angle to form a sort of passageway that guides users to the bathroom door. The overall effect of using the curtained passageway is like turning a corner in a haunted house because for a second you are disoriented and you don’t know what will happen next. Exciting!
Before the show started (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf; it was magnificent), the theater’s artistic director gave some background about the theater and tried to sell raffle tickets. Proceeds from the raffle tickets will help fund renovations, most noticeably, to fix up the women’s restroom.
Having used the restroom before I sat down, I was aware of the need or desire for renovations. The women’s restroom is not horrible. For a barn, it’s about what I expected. I think everything worked, though I’m not sure of the flushing power of the toilet. Everything from the toilet to the sink to tiny end tables looks quaint, but also like it’s about to break.
A small chalkboard sign in the bathroom reads “You are beautiful.” I mean, yes, I know. Time for these bathroom platitudes to tell me something I don’t know, like “Everything will be okay.” The sign is on a table and propped against a mirror, which itself is propped against the wall. All these props make me nervous because I worry that if I stomp hard enough, everything will come tumbling down.
If you stink up the place, you could light the candle sitting on the wobbly table — but honestly, with all this wood in an old barn, I am hesitant for you to do that. So maybe just carry some poo-pouri spray.
After washing your hands, dry them on the roll of paper towels sitting on the table. Maybe you have a good method for keeping a roll of paper towels dry while holding it with your wet hands. You can also just dry your hands in your frizzy hair like I sometimes do.
My hope is that, during the bathroom renovations, the theater keeps this rustic and quaint aesthetic but without making everything look like it’s about to fall over.
Full disclosure: The winner of the raffle won free tickets to any remaining show in the 2019 season. Dear reader, WE WON! Now we are true patrons of the arts (and the bathrooms).
This bathroom gets three out of five toilets.
Emily Dressler has been writing about bathrooms for The Devil Strip for lo these many years, by which we mean since 2015.