Daphne's Dive

Theater, Drama
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
1/6
Photograph: Joan Marcus
 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
2/6
Photograph: Joan Marcus
 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
3/6
Photograph: Joan Marcus
 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
4/6
Photograph: Joan Marcus
 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
5/6
Photograph: Joan Marcus
 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
6/6
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Daphne's Dive: Theater review by David Cote

Bars are outstanding factories for human suffering—and deliverance. Everywhere from Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh to Louis C.K.’s hauntingly great web series Horace and Pete, watering holes attract the guilty, the self-deluded and, of course, the addicted. Quiara Alegría Hudes (The Happiest Song Plays Last) covers those bases in her slow-burning, vibrantly sketched portrait of a scruffy North Philly booze joint run by love-scarred Daphne (Vanessa Aspillaga). Most bartenders listen to others’ problems, but Daphne’s cheerful reticence about her own demons makes us lean forward.

Sweetly centered yet able to project panic and terror in a heartbeat, Aspillaga anchors Hudes’s episodic narrative, which spans 1994 to 2011 and is as much a portrait of a gentrifying community as a splintering group of friends. These include Pablo (Matthew Saldivar), a Cuban immigrant painter who finds inspiration in garbage; Jenn (KK Moggie), a dancer and activist based on the late Kathy Chang(e); Inez and Acosta (Daphne Rubin-Vega and Carlos Gomez), an upwardly mobile couple (he runs for state senator); and free-spirit biker Rey (Gordon Joseph Weiss). The youngest is Ruby (Samira Wiley, heartbreaking), a sexual-abuse survivor we track from age 11 to 29. Daphne takes Ruby in, an act of maternal kindness that soothes the pain even as it burns down to your heart. Sort of like a stiff drink.—David Cote

Pershing Square Signature Center (Off Broadway). By Quiara Alegría Hudes. Directed by Thomas Kail. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission.

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Pershing Square Signature Center (Off Broadway). By Quiara Alegría Hudes. Directed by Thomas Kail. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission.

By: David Cote

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