Left unresolved, the past has a way of revealing its cracks, regardless of one’s best efforts to keep them at bay.
Nylon, a new play from esteemed playwright Sofia Alvarez and the pilot production from Blockchain Theater Project, investigates the suffocating and ultimately inescapable ways the past can take hold of one’s ability to make decisions in the present.
The play opens in a coffee shop in New York City, where with light, familiar banter Ana (Sheila Vand) revisits the past with her estranged ex-boyfriend Matthew (Cesar J. Rosado). Though, as these things go, the trip down memory lane turns to more serious topics when Ana confronts Matthew about the daughter they left at birth four years prior. After a tragic accident left Ana and Matthew emotionally unavailable to one another and their newborn child, Ana fled New York for London, in attempts to save herself and start her life anew.
Ana’s journey is a captivating one and well executed by the talented Sheila Vand. In the beginning, we experience Ana as a confident, controlled woman, who stubbornly executes her self-imposed rules at the expense of her dreams and desires. However, Ana’s steadfastness slowly begins to come apart once it’s revealed that Matthew intends to begin legal proceedings to get their biological daughter back. Ana grows more uncertain about herself and her life’s path once back in London and tries desperately to conceal her emotional turmoil from her husband Colin (Brian Miskell). Prying on her uncertainty and painful past, Colin pressures Ana into a path of motherhood she has resisted for years. At the play’s conclusion, Ana tries to escape a life that doesn’t feel her own but is ultimately bound to her present, for better or worse.
The direction and the creative staging of the piece is quite effective, in that so much intense action happens in such intimate proximity to the audience that at times one could feel uncomfortably close to the action – however, like flies on the wall to both aggressive and tender moments, what director Knud Adams achieves is mirroring in the audience a similar feeling of suffocation and inescapable angst that our protagonist Ana is grappling with on stage.
Actor Cesar J. Rosado is wonderful as Matthew, bringing an honest and complicated idealism to the role. Likewise, Claire Siebers, who plays his slightly dim girlfriend Gigi, adds great comedic yet grounded sincerity to the role of a woman who’s played the runner-up in a love triangle for years.
The play is successful at showcasing a woman’s place in modern society: we see Ana as ex-lover, wife, businesswoman, friend and mother. However, the play’s narrative is muddied with an overabundance of information and dramatic reveals that it makes it difficult to fully absorb and feel grounded in the enormity of each available role Ana pivots in and out of. That said, maybe these waves of abundance are exactly Ms Alvarez’s intention. Maybe this is her comment on life in general: that we rarely get a chance to hit the pause button and take a break from life. The cause isn’t that exactly what Ana tried to do in escaping New York? A location is just a location, you can leave it behind but ultimately that which is left unfinished has a way of revisiting us eventually. And, as inconvenient as they may be, the waves of life just keep smacking the shoreline whether we’re done processing the last wave or not.
- By: Sofia Alvarez
- Director: Knud Adams
- Produced by: Blockchain Theater Project
- Presented by: TheaterLab
- Cast includes: Sheila Vand, Cesar J. Rosado, Maggie Bofill, Claire Siebers and Brian Miskell
- Venue: TheaterLab
- Until: March 24, 2019