A recent trip to the Theatre on San Pedro square served me up an unexpected lesson in arts experiences. The Saturday 3pm matinée of Crossing Delancey was “squeezed” into my schedule kind of last-minute and it proved to be a perfect afternoon theatrical version of a staycation. More familiar than exotic, more mellow than high maintenance, this show was a nice reminder that you don’t need to emote greatly, laugh loudly (or often), or even think deeply about a theatre experience to have it be enjoyable and totally worthwhile. Sometimes short and sweet is exactly what you need. Crossing Delancey is just that and serves up a generous Bubbie sized portion of simple nourishing sweetness.
The play is…well… simple. Light with moments of charm and humor spread out amongst its short scenes. The characters aren’t terribly deep, but what they are is relatable and undeniably sincere. You know these people, you might be related to these people, you may even BE these people. Sure, it’s a predictable story that has us rooting for the underdog, but we don’t ever get sick of that, do we? The performances are endearing, the characters delightful (and appropriately irritating in places) and the show provides a proper escape that easily appeals to multiple generations.
You’re more likely to smile throughout the play than laugh out loud, but there are some moments of real comedy. You’ll “suffer” along with our heroine as she respectfully endures/humors her less than passive albeit well-intentioned Bubbie’s meddling in her love life and you’ll admire her independence and romantic/somewhat naive notions of what that independence actually means. You’ll roll your eyes at the narcissistic love interest, you’ll shake your head at that pushy, nosey matchmaker, you’ll likely find yourself “in” the story at times. All this makes for a cute 110 minutes.
The most significant challenge of this script was probably its many locations. There are a lot of elements required to tell the story properly and in this intimate space the challenge doubled, but Tabard did a masterful job tackling this hurdle with a well-constructed set, very defined lighting and efficient, effective, believable stage movement.
Complete with 80’s hair, puffy sleeves, and blue eye-shadow (Ah, those were the days) the feel of this show is oddly nostalgic. How blue eye shadow can make me “aww” I’m not sure, but there you have it. A pleasant 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for this sentimental salute to soul-searching, match making, and love of all kinds. Crossing Delancey plays at the Theatre on San Pedro Square in Downtown San Jose through February 19th.