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Maggie May

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Maggie May

At the
Belt Theatre
336 West 37th St

By Tom O’Brien
Directed by Jocelyn Szabo

Produced by Wildfire Productions
Publicity: Joe Trentacosta, Springer/Chicoine Public Relations

Art Direction/Set Design: Christina Aprea
Production Manager: Jason Caparaz
Costume Design: Lauren Cordes
Photography: Jill Frank
Stage Manager/Sound Design: Tara Grieco
Graphic Design/Photography: Michael Lapinski
Lighting Design/Board Operator: Dimitra Lopes

Starring: Christiane Szabo as Maggie, Ean Sheehy as Donny, Ethan James Duff as Mark, and Stephen Bradbury as Charlie

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 20, 2004

Maggie May is a relatively brief play, somewhat entertaining and somewhat a work in progress. A young couple in an extremely contemporary motif of costume, language, and mannerisms, are in the Bahamas, thanks to an airline Sweepstakes vacation won by Donny (Ean Sheehy). Maggie May (Christiane Szabo) is an old girlfriend, presumably invited to share this romantic vacation, purely as a "friend". As it turns out, an old acquaintance of Donny, Mark (Ethan James Duff), happens to be living in the Bahamas, and his fishing boat is docked just near Donny’s hotel. As one can assume, Mark makes an active play for Maggie, who thinks she was invited to a sweepstakes prize vacation, but, in reality, there was no prize, as Donny was desirous of renewing their relationship.

To complicate matters, Charlie (Stephen Bradbury), much more mature and seasoned in relationships and romance, tries to counsel Donny in winning Maggie, before she is swept away by Mark, a very savvy and aggressive young man. The stage is split in two, with the hotel bedroom on one side and the interior of the fishing boat on the other. This is a small, upstairs theatre, with sightlines that include off-stage areas; so, all this action has a decidedly casual feel to it. And, casual it was.

In fact, this Off-Off-Broadway play is so casual that the actors smoke what is supposed to be a Jamaican "reefer". They swear and talk openly about "solo sex" and sports locker rooms with a level of vulgarity not often heard on NY stages and even appear to be improvising their lines, while "drinking beer", during the most "important" scenes. There was one point at which I had hoped that Donny would muster some male hormonal aggression and sweep Maggie into the unused bed, just a small image of intimacy that would have decreased the tension that ensued, as Maggie could not "get it" that Donny really wanted her and seemed frozen, as well, in naiveté. I don’t fully blame the actor here, as Donny was the weakest character onstage with terrible lines or terrible directing instructions. At times he seemed less vibrant than the scenery!

Christiane Szabo is adorable and may have a promising future, should she get a stronger role to play, but she needs onstage presence to pull off a more professional image. Stephen Bradbury is a mature actor, and I would not mind seeing him, as well, in another work, with more sophisticated dialogue. Ethan James Duff has promise, as well, and his self-assurance and swagger might do well in another comedy with more depth. Ean Sheehy seemed ill prepared and stuck in a bad role in a bad play. There was quite a small audience in attendance, and some left during this performance. I can sympathize with their frustration. There’s a chance Tom O’Brien could rewrite this work with more compelling scenes, tighter direction, and less dependence on the vulgar, shock effect of language. Luckily, there was no intermission.

Maggie May
Photo courtesy of Springer Associates

Maggie May
Photo courtesy of Springer Associates

Maggie May
Photo courtesy of Springer Associates

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at