Night flight

The Swan

By Elizabeth Egloff
Directed by Eva Burgess
Equity showcase (closes Apr. 24)
Nicu's Spoon Inc.
The Pelican Theatre
750 Eighth Ave. 6th fl. (; 212/868-4444)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

The Swan is a play about being loved, wanted, and needed. Nicu's Spoon has produced a dramatic revival of the work starring talented actors. However, while The Swan was captivating in parts, overall it seemed a little long for the subject matter and, thus, failed to hold the audience's interest for the entire show.

The plot of The Swan follows Dora Hand (Stephanie Barton-Farcas) as she copes with an unexpected visitor, who comes crashing in through the window. It is a hurt swan (Karam K. Puri) who commences the show as a wild bird. Yet throughout the course of the play, the swan learns to speak and falls in love with Dora, much to the chagrin and jealousy of her current lover, the married milkman Kevin (T. J. Mannix). The love triangle goes through many unexpected twists and turns before Dora finally comes to term with her life and love.

The play itself has many layers; it is complex and compelling in parts, while meandering and unfocused in others. The dialog is fairly realistic and straightforward, and there are a few good existential monologs examining the nature of love and relationships.

All three actors delved into their roles with a distinct, grounded realism. Puri embodied the swan and manipulated his body amply to personify it. Barton-Farcas handled the psychological complexities of Dora well; her performance was subtle yet emotional. Mannix gave a multi-leveled performance showcasing various sides of the conflict between being angry and jealous on the one hand, while trying to be sweet and kind on the other.

Burgess directed the show unevenly. At the beginning and for a few scenes in the middle, the show moved very slowly. However, she brought out really good characterizations in her actors, and there were parts of the performance where the audience was drawn in completely.

Nikolaus Webern's set design created many different playing levels and areas in the intimate space. Sarah Gromko's sound design was sporadic but was good when it happened. The music helped created an ambience and itself was intriguing and eerie. However, if music is used during some scene changes, it should be used in all of them. There was a lot of downtime between scenes where some filler would have been appropriate and appreciated.

Thus, The Swan was a mixed bag -- a tad uneven, unexciting in some parts but definitely engrossing in others. It was certainly theatre that made the audience think and discuss things afterwards, which justified going to see it.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2005 Seth Bisen-Hersh