The Pershing Square Signature Center
April 28, 2016
|Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre|
Daphne’s Dive is Quiara Alegria Hudes’ impactful play now running at Signature Theatre. It is about much more than the North Philadelphia dive bar in which it takes place. It’s about Daphne’s willingness to dive into life when all the odds are against her. It’s about the bonding and journey of seven characters over the stretch of about eighteen years. It is realistic, gritty, and edgy.
When the FBI raids the apartment above Daphne’s Dive, they inadvertently leave behind an eleven year old girl, Ruby (played by Samira Wiley). She is adopted by Daphne (played by Vanessa Aspillaga) and is pretty much raised in the bar. She is influenced by Daphne’s regulars: Pablo (played by Matt Saldivar), an artist who uses garbage and discarded items as his medium and inspiration; Rey (played by Gordon Joseph Weiss), an aging biker; Jenn (played by KK Moggie), a free-spirited, rebel with a messiah complex; Daphne’s sister, Inez (played by Daphne Rubin-Vega); and her husband Acosta (played by Carlos Gomez), a local businessman and community activist. A heated argument occurs between Jenn and Acosta the night he is elected to Congress. This initial crack in the foundation of the group’s connection causes more harm than anyone of them presumes.
|Daphne Rubin-Vega, Vanessa Aspillaga, |
& Samira Wiley in rehearsal
Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre
The script has some very powerful moments, which the cast delivers honestly. They are a tight ensemble authentically portraying strong characters with clear, specific objectives. Under the direction of Thomas Kail, they bring the play to an emotional climax and poignant conclusion.
“Signature Theatre exists to honor and celebrate the playwright.” This production does just that for the unique, distinct voice of Quiara Algeria Hudes. Daphne’s Dive runs at the Pershing Square Signature Center through June 12.