City Lights Theater’s latest show is an unexpected and charming new play called The Siegel. The show manages to weave thoughtful and melancholy notes into this laugh-out-loud comedy.
The Siegel tells the story of Ethan Siegel (Ben Euphrat) and his plan to ask his girlfriend, Alice (Ella Dershowitz), to marry him. The only problems are that they broke up two years ago, she has a new boyfriend and has completely moved on with her life. What starts as hilarious, but potentially stalker-y behavior, quickly evolves into an unexpectedly deep exploration of love.
The show is fast paced and fun, with jokes flying so fast you can barely catch them all. But most importantly, the show has a lot of heart. It can be difficult to craft a show that is both genuinely funny and moving. A combination of great acting, solid directing by Mark Anderson Phillips and a fabulous script by Michael Mitnick make this a show you won’t want to miss.
The supporting cast has some of the best lines and best moments of the show. Davied Morales brilliantly plays Alice’s new boyfriend, Nelson, as the character slowly loses his patience with Ethan. Nelson probably has the biggest character arc in the show, going from shockingly cool and collected when Ethan first shows up to propose, to utterly paranoid by the end. It’s a complicated rollercoaster of emotions for the character that Morales makes look easy and natural.
Erik Gandolfi plays Alice’s father, Ron, with impressive insight and comedic timing. The character is the butt of many jokes throughout the play, but also needs to be grounded enough for the emotional moments to ring true. Gandolfi manages to make this balance look simple.
Every part of the show was enjoyable, from the first lines to the surprising closing scene. That stated, there were weaker elements of the show, namely the relationship between the two main characters. It doesn’t become clear to the audience why Alice and Ethan were ever attracted to one another until fairly late in the play. This is mostly due to playwright Mitnick and how he chose to build dramatic tension. It works out, but only because the show doesn’t have an intermission for the audience to mull over the plot and potentially leave. Furthermore, the quick pace of the script and the hard work of the two leading actors camouflage this small issue.
The Siegel is a smart, fun and fast-paced show about love and what really matters. It is unexpected in all the right ways and showcases the talents of the playwright, actors and director. Everything about this play is delightful and I would recommend that your rush to get your tickets today.
The Siegel runs now through June 17, 2018 at City Lights Theater, 529 S. Second Street, San Jose. Tickets range $19-$44 with discounts available for seniors, students, educators and groups. The show runs about 90 minutes with no intermission.
Photos courtesy of Taylor Sanders