The Playwrights Realm
Katherine Kovner, Founding Artistic Director
Roberta Pereira, Producing Director
A Delicate Ship
A New Play by Anna Ziegler
Directed by Margot Bordelon
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
416 West 42nd Street
Matt Dellapina, Miriam Silverman
Scenic Design: Reid Thompson
Costume Design: Sydney Maresca
Lighting Design: Nicole Pearce
Sound Design & Composition: Palmer Hefferan
Props Design: Anna Demenkoff
Production Supervisor: James Cleveland/Production Core
Casting: Paul Davis/Calleri Casting
Production Stage Manager: Alyssa K. Howard
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 12, 2015
Anna Ziegler’s A Delicate Ship, now being presented by The Playwright’s Realm, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, left me yearning for a new ending, a new cast, and a re-written middle and ending. In other words, the original concept was intriguing, but the play was disappointing. Everyone likes a set with a Christmas tree, warm lighting, a young couple in love, and talk of youthful hope. The idea of an intruder, who wishes to destroy this intimacy of a budding relationship, in the midst of seasonal swooning, is also compelling, as long as each character exudes equal chemistry, so there’s a palpable dynamic. Sam (Matt Dellapina) and Sarah (Miriam Silverman) are enjoying Sarah’s living room festivities, when an urgent, loud knocking is heard at the door. Nate (Nick Westrate), Sarah’s longtime friend since childhood, seems in distress. He’s hyperactive, physically and verbally, a human landmine about to explode. He targets Sam, in the moment of arrival, as prey for his warrior mission to spend the night with Sarah, after ridding her of Sam. Sam, likewise, is drawn into verbal, psychic, and physical combat with Nate, to protect his territory. Sarah, for her part, becomes philosophical and passive aggressive to both men, with her attention swerving from Sam to Nate and back again, inflicting hope and confusion in the process.
I found Sarah and Nate to both lack likeableness, ironically, in a play about love. There was chemistry between Ms. Silverman and Mr. Dellapina, while Mr. Westrate morphed into a tortured loner, on a relentless quest to win his private obsession, in a holiday season known for despair and depression, among those caught short on shared, jubilant celebrations. Nate challenges Sam’s manliness, Sam challenges Nate’s maturity, and Sarah inexplicably challenges both to share good tidings, as she hangs shiny ornaments. I yearned for Sarah to dismiss Nate, early on, as he pulls out marijuana, Cheese Doodles, and what appears to be cheap champagne. This one-act play was destined to feel like three acts, with interminable psychobabble, quotes from Kierkegaard, and boring, antagonistic posturing. This was a double divorce, before one relationship developed. When one thinks the play has ended, then there’s a second conclusion, drawn in elusive, breezy dialogue. But wait, as the worst of television ads bounce back, Ms. Ziegler’s play has a third conclusion, one that makes the viewer yearn, as noted above, for a new ending, a new cast, and a re-written middle and ending. The poignant revelations of the play’s final finale left me yearning for an immediate rewrite.
Margot Bordelon, Director, would have been better served with a more credible actor in the role of Nate, as Mr. Westrate, who was favorably reviewed on these pages in the 2014 Casa Valentina, was miscast here as Sam’s rival. Even Ms. Silverman seemed miscast as Sarah, with her passive, introspective manner, all too enigmatic and one-dimensional. It was Mr. Dellapina who drew my eye, continually, and I look forward to seeing him in new productions. Reid Thompson’s scenery was pleasant for a small, Brooklyn apartment. Sydney Maresca’s costumes were appropriate for Sam and Sarah, but Nate’s shabby jeans and hoodie added nothing but unpleasantness to his already unpleasant persona. I just kept wishing that Sarah would drop the deer-in-the-headlight expression, with her eyes like a pendulum, swinging to Nate and Sam, back and forth. Maybe Ms. Ziegler could at least write a sequel, built upon the glimmer of poignancy in the third and final finale.