First Asian American casting of ‘A Delicate Steadiness’ at Off-Off-Broadway’s Connelly Theater delivers the characters’ dysfunction and despair

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In collaboration with Nationwide Asian American Theatre Firm (NAATCO), Transport Group’s Off-Off-Broadway presentation of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Steadiness, now taking part in a restricted engagement on the Connelly Theater via November 19, embraces its mission of fostering new initiatives for larger illustration within the theater. Not solely is it the primary NYC manufacturing of the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama to be seen off Broadway, nevertheless it’s additionally the primary to function a full solid of Asian American actors, and the primary New York manufacturing of an Albee play to be carried out by a non-white solid, in an intensely compelling imaginative and prescient of the dysfunction and despair inherent within the playwright’s semi-autobiographical story, with unstable characters based mostly on members of his personal adoptive household.

Manu Narayan and Mia Katigbak. Photograph by Carol Rosegg.

Directed by Transport Group Creative Director Jack Cummings III, the well-timed three-act play, with two intermissions, strikes alongside briskly, in its skillful stability of psychological malaise, absurdist humor, and explosive confrontations, as the house of the prosperous empty-nester couple Agnes and Tobias turns into a not-so-safe haven and a battleground for 4 uninvited visitor residents: her alcoholic sister Claire; their fearful finest associates Harry and Edna; and their four-times-divorced daughter Julia – all upsetting the already delicate stability of their strained and sexless marriage, and Agnes’s repeated concern about dropping her thoughts.

The participating solid of six captures the articulate musings and showdowns of the educated upper-crust figures, liable to hurling eloquent insults at each other and to downing extreme cocktails and cordials that unleash their lower than cordial conduct and lift questions on what they really need and what they’re going to do. Taking the lead is Mia Katigbak as the strict, correct, and chopping Agnes, who maintains no matter emotional management and stability she will because the fulcrum of the household, with an obvious lack of sympathy for the others who embarrass her, and an inclination of placing her husband within the place of getting to make the powerful selections she calls for. Manu Narayan as Tobias is extra tolerant, complaisant, and empathetic, incessantly ingesting and serving drinks to everybody, presumably to create a social ambiance because the host, however extra doubtless as an try and obliterate their issues and his. He’s typically soft-spoken, till his climactic “aria” (as described by Albee) with Harry, when his suppressed feelings lastly burst.

Tina Chilip and Carmen M. Herlihy. Photograph by Carol Rosegg.

Carmen M. Herlihy brings the laughs because the “willful drinker” Claire, who rolls round on the ground, taunts her sister Agnes along with her alcoholic and verbal lack of management, backhanded apology, and gleeful refusal to substantiate her information of an affair Tobias had, although she teased at it earlier. In her portrayal of the 30-something Julia, Tina Chilip is comically outspoken, immature, and demanding, as she goes to extremes to attempt to get what she needs, cries so arduous that her eye-makeup runs down her face, and stops the present along with her spot-on supply, facial features, and physique language in her hilarious incredulous response, “WHAT???” Rounding out the advantageous solid are Paul Juhn because the reserved Harry, who in the end asks Tobias if he and his spouse are welcome there, and the masterful Rita Wolf because the smiling, cool, and significant Edna, who, like her husband, is evasive about what frightened them from their very own home however doesn’t hesitate to make sharply incisive feedback about Julia, whose bed room they’ve appropriated, that lower like a knife.

Manu Narayan, Carmen M. Herlihy, Mia Katigbak, Paul Juhn, and Rita Wolf. Photograph by Carol Rosegg.

Mariko Ohigashi’s costumes are in line with the stylish model of the Nineteen Sixties and the personalities and ages of the upscale characters. Lighting by R. Lee Kennedy transitions from shiny daytime to darkish night time to a depressing dawn, when Agnes and Tobias should start the day once more. The scenic design by Peiyi Wong encompasses a runway stage with sofas dealing with reverse one another throughout the room, permitting the director to keep up a fragile stability in his blocking of the actors’ actions; a large-scale liquor cupboard at one finish, full of an array of crystal decanters and glasses, to maintain the drinks flowing; and a grand however stark gray staircase on the far finish, on which the characters make sluggish stylized entries and exits that underscore Albee’s absurdist content material. A row of leather-bound classics help and encircle the stage above a row of empty glasses on the ground, referencing the books and booze that outline the extremely educated heavy ingesting characters. All of it contributes to a well-conceived and absorbing manufacturing.

Working Time: Roughly two hours and 40 minutes, together with two intermissions.

A Delicate Steadiness performs via Sunday, November 19, 2022, on the Transport Group, performing on the Connelly Theater, 220 East 4th Avenue, NYC. For tickets (priced at $35-75, plus charges), go on-line. Masks are obligatory within the theater when not actively consuming or ingesting.

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