Advertisement
Entertainment & Arts

Review: In Anna Ziegler’s ‘Delicate Ship,’ rough seas for a love triangle

la-1516981843-c5af0abejb-snap-image
Josh Zuckerman, on the table, stars with Philip Orazio and Paris Perrault in the West Coast premiere of Anna Ziegler’s “A Delicate Ship” at the Road on Magnolia in North Hollywood.
(Brian M. Cole)

Playwright Anna Ziegler peels away the layers of her characters to their pulsing human core in “A Delicate Ship,” now in its West Coast premiere.

Ziegler’s “Photograph 51,” a West End star vehicle for Nicole Kidman a few years back, concerned a female scientist whose contribution to the discovery of DNA was unrightfully eclipsed. That play was sharply intelligent but emotionally muddled, particularly in its denouement. By contrast, the production of “Ship” at the Road on Magnolia in North Hollywood demonstrates beyond any doubt that Ziegler can write with masterly emotional veracity.

Ziegler couches her drama in the simplest of situations. It’s a snowy Christmas Eve, and new lovers Sarah (Paris Perrault) and Sam (Philip Orazio) are enjoying a quiet evening in Sarah’s Brooklyn apartment. Sarah B. Brown’s set, subtly lighted by Jared A. Sayeg, is a cozy locale. Cricket S. Myers’ virtuosic sound design — so unobtrusive we are hardly aware of it — lulls us into a deceptively pleasant mood.

Not for long. Onto the scene bursts Nate (Josh Zuckerman), Sarah’s childhood friend, a dervish of energy whose outrageousness knows no bounds. Supposedly Sarah’s platonic friend, Nate hides genuine desperation under his outward cheekiness. As his competition for Sarah’s affections becomes increasingly obvious, gale force passions buffet the trio, with devastating consequences.

Advertisement

Vaulting back and forth in time, Ziegler’s memory play is both elegy and cautionary tale, imbued with poignant loss and keen regret. Under Andre Barron’s sensitive and appropriately delicate direction, Perrault and Orazio are superb. However, it is Zuckerman’s tour-de-force turn — twitchy, manic, comical and anguished — that dazzles.

Ziegler overshoots the sweet spot where her play should have ended. The final scene devolves into anticlimax — a shame, since the information delivered in it could easily have been included in previous snippets, especially considering the piece’s ebb-and-flow chronology.

Perhaps Ziegler should trust her audience a bit more. We understand what happened without having it explained. And if a wisp of ambiguity still lingers, that’s fine too.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Advertisement

‘A Delicate Ship’

When: The Road Theatre on Magnolia, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; ends March 11

Tickets: $34

Information: (818) 761-8838. www.RoadTheatre.org

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

SIGN UP for the free Essential Arts & Culture newsletter »

See all of our latest arts news and reviews at latimes.com/arts.

MORE THEATER:

Advertisement

The 99-Seat Beat: Picks from L.A.'s small-theater scene

Review: ‘Aladdin’ at the Pantages

News: Temptations jukebox musical headed for L.A.


Newsletter
Get our daily Entertainment newsletter

Get the day's top stories on Hollywood, film, television, music, arts, culture and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Advertisement