Reborning

Emily Beth Rickards, Paul Piaskowski

 

By Tania Fisher

 

Described as a dark comedy, this actually very appealing and incredibly interesting play is so much more. Award winning playwright Zayd Dohrn, gives us a truly original and unique story in Reborning, opening at the SOHO Playhouse on July 12.

Set in a doll maker’s studio in Queens, the concept of the play’s title may initially be interpreted as a direct link to the lifelike baby dolls that are made by artist Kelly (Emily Bett Rickards) who is often asked to produce exact doll replicas of peoples’ babies either as a sweet memento, or sometimes, on the slightly darker side, to somehow, on some level, replace a deceased baby as part of a grieving process.

Kelly lives with her boyfriend, Daizy (Paul Piaskowski) who also creates lifelike sculptures, but of a very different kind. New client, Emily (Lori Triolo) arrives to check on the process of the doll she has commissioned Kelly to make; an exact replica of her own deceased infant.

Lori Triolo also directs, and notes that the “body remembers what our brain often can’t” which really becomes the through-line for this story. The artist, Kelly, who comes from a tragic childhood herself, now lives an almost bohemian lifestyle but finds satisfaction in her work and prides herself on satisfying her customers. Her new client, Emily, who is very much upper crust and more refined, has her own tragic circumstances to still work through. As the doll’s form takes shape, they are both moved by what it becomes to represent, and this inanimate object subsequently becomes the catalyst for both of them to address previously unsolved emotional clutter.

 

Lori Triolo, Emily Bett Rickards

 

The character of Daizy initially seems to provide the off-beat straight man in this trio, but even he cannot escape delving into his own childhood and revealing some of his own hard truths. His positive personality and stability – albeit unconventional – are what pull the three of them towards healing and resolving to let all them move forward to a more content and productive life.

What ensues from this set up is the entertaining story of unconventional relationships that develop, as well as exploring the big issues of love and loss. But these issues are not so heavy that they weigh down the play at all; on the contrary, they are stylishly a part of the story and a motive for the characters as they themselves inadvertently sort out some of their own past tragedies and baggage through their interactions with each other.

Dohrn cleverly gives us what is not written. The natural dialogue from the characters in moments of awkwardness between them has us knowing exactly what they’re trying to say when they can’t say it, thus mirroring exactly how it is in life. There is marvelous contrast between the three characters that play off each other superbly, making for great theater.

Rickards, Piaskowski, and Triolo are all equally outstanding, giving natural and comfortable performances with ease. There was only a slight lack of energy here and there in the delivery in some areas which unfortunately let some lines fall flat, but given the actors’ obvious talents and skills, I feel confident that the energy will pick up.

Rickards, as the doll maker Kelly, conveys a likeable earthiness, and a relatable characterization, even though her character’s circumstances are incredibly uncommon. She handles her high end dramatic moments with professional tact.

 

Emily Bett Rickards, Paul Piaskowski

 

Piaskowski as the endearing Daizy is at once a lighter and comical presence in the play, but also skillfully manages to convey the very real and very present motives for his actions.

Lori Triolo is enchanting to watch and has a skillful knack as an actress in her ability to envelop and convey her environment. She was very engaging and gave a lovely performance with professional ease.

Great care has been taken by highly reputable veteran Scenic Designer, Peter Triolo, and Art Designer Jo-Marie Triolo who have created a wonderfully detailed doll-making studio on the stage and bringing its audience into a space and a world we might not otherwise ever be privy to experiencing.

Reborning is a very well written and excellently executed play that does not allow itself to become bogged down in its big themes, but is entertaining, even at times outright funny, and leaves you feeling very satisfied.

Photos: Russ Rowland

 

Reborning at SoHo Playhouse 15 Vandam Street New York, NY  Run time: 1hr 30 mins thru August 3

 

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