By: Isa Goldberg
June 15, 2018: Anthony Giardina’s new drama, Dan Cody’s Yacht at The Manhattan Theater Club, City Center Stage I, plays with the simplicity of boulevard comedy, while addressing complex issues of education and class, in America today. But it’s not just the divide between the wealthy and the poor that is being addressed here. More importantly, it’s about the divide between being real and genuine, versus getting away with easy answers.
In this production, directed by Doug Hughes (Tony Award-winning Doubt), the cards are played openly, and dealt unfairly. As the play begins Kevin (Rick Holmes) is trying to bribe his son’s English teacher, Cara (Kristen Bush), into giving his lazy son a higher grade. The money is on the table. And while Cara does not accept, she is drawn into the world of this high-powered boastful money manager, with all the hopes and expectations he feeds her.
And Cara also has a child, Angela, a dedicated student, the class poet, whose prospects are just the opposite of Kevin’s son, John. There is no private education in her future, much as she strives to learn, and achieve. That the two teenagers are black and white opposites serves the issue at the heart of the drama.
While the plot is pretty obvious, Giardina manages to hold up the ambiguity of morality in a thoughtful, sophisticated way. It’s not about right and wrong, as much as it’s about being true to oneself, and knowing how to get results. Indeed, there is no defense of righteous deeds that lead to self-destructive ends, nor crimes targeted to cause others harm. It’s a well nuanced, and well thought out position.
That the play moves so easily and quickly is, of course, a tribute to Hughes’ direction, as well as the very capable cast. Casey Whyland’s Angela evokes our empathy, while John Croft as O’Neill’s son is adorable, and therefore irreprehensible.
And the supporting actors bring their characters into sharp focus, especially Roxanna Hope Radja as Cathy, Cara’s best friend from high school. Still stuck in that small town where Cara is struggling to raise her daughter, Bush’s Cara is a friend you wouldn’t want to lose.
Rick Holmes, as the successful money manager is as charming, as he is contriving. The production is smooth, well-paced, and timely.
Dan Cody’s Yacht ***
Manhattan Theater Club (Off Broadway)
New York City Center Stage I
131 W. 55th Street, NYC
Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.