Friday, August 21, 2015

A Delicate Ship ***

The Playwrights Realm is presenting this intriguing new play by Anna Ziegler at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Sarah (Miriam Silverman), a social worker in her early 30s, and Sam (Matt Dellapina), a budding musician, have been a couple for several months. Their quiet Christmas Eve at Sarah’s apartment is interrupted by a sudden knock at the door. The uninvited guest is Nate (Nick Westrate), Sarah’s close friend since childhood. Bearing champagne and weed, Nate insinuates himself into their evening. Sam and Nate have neither met nor heard of each other before. Nate is an intensely self-centered overgrown child, filled with existential dread that the world existed before him and will go on after him. He has longed for Sarah since childhood as the only person who can save him and has showed up that night to persuade her to choose him. Like Icarus in Breugel’s famous painting, he fears that his suffering may go unnoticed. Each character breaks the fourth wall periodically to tell the audience about previous as well as future events. The urge to please one’s parents is a theme that recurs. The title comes from the image of time as a ship delicately navigating the shoals between past and future. The events of that evening have a profound effect on all three characters.The actors are all excellent, the set by Reid Thompson is evocative, the costumes by Sydney Maresca are fine and the direction by Margot Bordelon is smooth. The playwright is not always in full command of her material, but shows considerable promise. Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission.


P Ardell said...

I liked much about the play--the language, the problems that Nate himself is and that he brings into the relationship between Sarah and Sam. It's made clear many times that Nate's an overgrown child, which may mean he wants to live among them (or at least third-graders) professionally, but based on the 65 minutes or so that he is on-stage I have a feeling he teaches third graders because because the playwright wants him to rather than because he does. It's not that I think it's impossible someone like Nate teaches third grade; it's that I'm not convinced by what I see of him.

I think the use of monologues is a tired tactic, especially in new plays. The speeches to the audience in this play were certainly well-written; some even seemed closer to asides or interior monologues, which would make them more justifiable by my lights. However, in the end, they seemed to contain material that was redundant or superfluous and which might just as easily have come out in the dialogue. What was happening on-stage I found interesting and dramatic enough. The primary effect of the fourth-wall breaches was to make the play longer than it needed to be: in fact, imagine what the play's impact would be if they were removed along with the sentimentalizing epilogue (and even the defenestration reported before epilogue). The remainder would be an hour-long real one-act play rather than one that has been stretched into a not-really full-length play. The climax (Sarah's rejection of Nate) is powerful and affecting, and what follows dilutes it with sentimentality and bromides about time passing and people changing and roads-not-taken (or in the play, doors not opened), even with a nice-but-not-quite-connected-to-the-drama last line spoken by Sarah.

Bob's Theater Blog said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.