They are in the midst of a high drama crisis moment when Natalia Plaza’s character Sophie exclaims to Steven, played by Zac Owens, “..You are so corny!” She speaks for us all—not only with her words, but with her simultaneous fondness for well-meaning Steven.
From his very first lines—all well-delivered by Owens, in this writer’s view—playwright Chris Cragin Day’s Steven is a cringe worthy innocent poster boy of just how clueless comfortable Americans are about the real-world they swim in. How perfect though that Cragin Day’s script doesn’t just let this be a worldly-wise Sophie vs out-to-lunch Steven story. Sophie, assimilated to be the American girl her parents craved for her to be, carries both the crushing weight of being reality-based and the you-can-do-anything optimism that became her American birthright when her parents crossed the border.
Steven had long ago fallen for Sophie, we later found out, and has managed to finagle a ruse to visit her apartment. Unbeknownst to him, this was just when Sophie discovers her Honduran-born parents have been picked up by ICE and locked in a detention center far away, leaving her in charge of her two younger brothers.
Sea Dog Theater Puts a Spotlight on Real People Caught in Immigration Headlines
The Rare Biosphere is about an especially timely topic of our day—illegal immigration.
It chills to think that the real-world context of this performance had even changed the very day of this review with Trump et al’s announcement that hitherto immigration will be “merit-based”. Just how many bad turns ago in this unfolding Give-Me-Your-Tired-Give-Me-Your-Poor American story did Sea Dog Theater decide to stage this play?
In a pre-performance conversation with Sea Dog Artistic Director Chris Domig, we learned just how deep this topic runs in his person. Half-American and half-Austrian, he witnessed the right wing backlash in Austria to an original open-door policy to immigrants that per capita was as liberal as in nearby Germany.
This play fits Sea Dog Theater’s charter of presenting stories that have to do with alienation and reconciliation. It strikes this writer as Christian-informed, but not Christian themed in a direct in-your-face way. You too may find that the play’s metaphor-- conveyed in its title—of how diversity is actually the natural order of things – is more annoying than compelling. More, the playwright’s decision to omit a racism lens from the story might dissuade many from enjoying this treatment of the immigration topic. But by this writer’s lights, the script’s strengths of telling a story succinctly and creating strong and lovable characters more than compensates. The performances by these two actors also help make it a top pick for your time.
The Rare Biosphere
Playwright: Chris Cragin-Day
Director: Christopher Domig
Cast: Natalia Plaza and Zac Owens.
Only three more performances through Sunday May 19
Saturday May 18 3 PM
Saturday May 18 8 PM
Sunday May 19 8 PM
Calvary St. George's
61 Gramercy Park North
$30 (Student discounts available)
To purchase tickets arrive at the theater 30 minutes before curtain or visit the Sea Dog Theater website.
Call ahead for ticket availability information-- 646-463-0542.
Note: The May 17 performance appeared to be a nearly full house.
Photos: Jeremy Varner