New York | 1h 20m | Already closed

A Delicate Ship

From 18 critic and 6 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing, Lovely, Beautifully acted

About the show

The Playwrights Realm opens their 15-16 season with Anna Ziegler's poetic play about a haunting love triangle that triggers an unexpected chain of events. More…

It's Christmas Eve and Sarah and Sam are celebrating with an old-fashioned New York debate about existential suffering – a special type of foreplay in a new relationship like theirs. But then there is knock on the door, and Sarah’s childhood best friend Nate stands at the threshold. And suddenly suffering becomes a whole lot less sexy. A kaleidoscopic look at one night in New York City that changes the lives of three people forever.


"A gorgeously sweet and sad three-character drama being given an excellent production by the Playwrights Realm... Ziegler has written a lovely piece that not only has the musicality of a fugue, but also contains an emotional center that will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a relationship end. That Ziegler's script has been given such an engaging production is almost an added bonus. Director Margot Bordelon guides her cast into three deeply felt, thoroughly human performances." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"An out of this world script with talented actors who can pull it off...Sadness and confusion and memories are intricately bound throughout 'A Delicate Ship.' The hilarity that stems out of awkwardness is a spectacular construct that Ziegler captures. Paired with director Margot Bordelon's through-the-roof talent, this production, or rather this 'ship,' not only got me across the ocean, but I enjoyed every second. All aboard!" Full Review

New York Theater

"'A Delicate Ship' is a lyrical play with some of the rich intricacy and circumlocution of a poem. To appreciate Ziegler’s play, theatergoers should be open to spending time with the kind of characters who philosophize about suffering over glasses of wine on Christmas Eve...Director Margot Bordelon treats us to a lively pace for such a contemplative piece, and the actors are so good I never once had the urge to yell out 'Oh, get over yourselves and go bowling.' (Well, maybe once.)" Full Review

The New York Times

"Ms. Ziegler’s quietly lyrical language has a luminous beauty, and her talent for creating characters whose complicated depths are just visible on their surfaces is still more remarkable. She has found a sympathetic director in Margot Bordelon, who gives the play’s fluid structure a strong grounding in reality that never interferes with its elliptical aura. And it’s impossible to imagine a cast better able to infuse Ms. Ziegler’s story of love, pain and loss with more natural poetry, or more ... Full Review

Time Out New York

"Were Ziegler (who makes origami of time) not so deft, the situation might lend itself to sitcom banality. She digs beneath the laughs, of which there are plenty, to plumb the pain that lurks below." Full Review

American Theater Web

"Anna Ziegler offers up a dark and fractured Christmas memory in 'A Delicate Ship...' What sets the piece apart, ultimately, is the searching and timeless question that lies underneath the play’s primary action. When can a child consider himself or herself genuinely adult...? The production boasts a trio of beautifully etched performances." Full Review

Magical MissTari Tour

"At first it seems like this will be a standard sort of love triangle/relationship play, but 'A Delicate Ship' is more than that...It's all done really well, with strong dialogue and keen insight into these characters, who truly seem like people instead of mouthpieces or stereotypes. And, like most good plays, the more specific the situations for these characters, the more universal the play seems...All in all, it was a lovely evening. I enjoyed 'A Delicate Ship' quite a lot." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"The actors are all excellent, the set by Reid Thompson is evocative, the costumes by Sydney Maresca are fine and the direction by Margot Bordelon is smooth. The playwright is not always in full command of her material, but shows considerable promise." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Anna Ziegler’s compact, compelling Off-Broadway play glides along until eventually sinking into melodrama...“A Delicate Ship” ends up being too tidy for its own good. Still, Ziegler’s voice comes through. And she’s got plenty to say." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

"It is an odd confluence of events that was not grounded in a 'because' – and that diminishes the believability of the story from the start...The play’s lack of structure coupled with the conclusion that is no surprise deprives us of an opportunity to empathize with any of these characters." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Three of New York’s best Off-Broadway actors are attempting to keep Anna Ziegler’s 'A Delicate Ship' afloat in Margot Bordelon’s generally effective production for the Playwrights Realm. Sometimes compelling but too often talky and irritating, 'A Delicate Ship,' on the surface at least, is a straightforward, seventy-five minute, romantic triangle drama...It doesn’t quite sink, but it’s nonetheless a somewhat leaky vessel." Full Review

New York Post

"The play is competently written, but lacks any noticeable personality. Who are these people? Why should we care about them? In many ways 'A Delicate Ship' is typical of a certain contemporary American drama. Bred at elite universities and workshopped to death, it’s as overprocessed and tasteless as American cheese. Watching the show, you find yourself wishing for imperfections. In other words, for a sign of life." Full Review


for a previous production "Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park once again has taken us to a special place that both touches one’s heart, emotions, and feelings...'Delicate Ship' reminds us that both relationships and people’s lives are very fragile...This is a thought-provoking drama that is humorous at times, sad, and driven to edge and back with pure emotion." Full Review

The Sappy Critic

for a previous production "What does it say about a play when you find yourself crying the entire trip home? 'A Delicate Ship' is a deeply affecting and beautifully sad memory play...I wonder if slowing things down might have allowed me and the actors to savor some of those brilliantly written lines but then again with a story this emotional perhaps it’s good to hit us hard and fast and allow us to process it all on the car ride home." Full Review

City Beat Cincinnati

for a previous production "A home run with the world premiere of Anna Ziegler’s 'A Delicate Ship...' It’s the story of an unanticipated love triangle...The triangle shifts and shimmers, and you never quite know where it’s headed. The outcome is a surprise, yet perfectly obvious if you’ve paid attention, especially to Auden’s poem. I predict that 'A Delicate Ship' will in time find its way to many other theaters. " Full Review


for a previous production "It's a dense script. Most of the time, keeping up with it is intellectually invigorating. But occasionally it's impossible to keep up with...The director gently resets the dramatic balance every few minutes. It's a little like a bullfight, with the players slowly easing into place, briefly doing battle and then moving on for the next skirmish...What's most rewarding about 'A Delicate Ship' is that it is truly a play of the modern age." Full Review

Tony Dallas Theatre Reviews

for a previous production "Ms. Ziegler's is an authentic and singular voice. Like Virginia Woolf, she knows how with poetic language to draw us into the pulsing interior life. Where, I think, she sabotages her craft is in trying to squeeze these delicate, quavering souls into a box that's too easily tied up with an Aristotelian bow...'A Delicate Ship' is a work that, though uneven by the end, feels painfully true in its revelations." Full Review

The River City News

for a previous production "At 75 minutes feels long and tedious...The first-person narration seems lazy...Or maybe it’s that Sarah isn’t a particularly good guide. She introduces us with poetic extravagance but her perceptions don’t seem to have much to do with reality. And everybody stays in the room for no better reason than the playwright needs them to. Rational people would have been long gone." Full Review

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a contemporary play about young (30something) people trying to sort out their lives in a fascinating manner.

Don't see it if you dislike relationship plays or plays with some ambiguous details.

Great acting, Crisp direction, Thought-provoking, Dramatic

See it if tend to reflect on what-ifs and the roads not taken; you wonder if you are like your parents, you have romantic exes who still haunt you

Don't see it if you dislike relationship dramas, fourth-wall-breaking philosophizing about the meaning of time

Intelligent, Absorbing, Beautifully acted, Modest, Fluidly staged

See it if you appreciate see-worthy new work that's as emotional as it is literate, with a yar ensemble that's wonderfully alert to each other.

Don't see it if it's hard to connect with characters who quite Kierkegaard. The play is delicate & small, so won't appeal if you want set& costume changes.

Indulgent, Great acting, Uneven

See it if complicated and complex interpersonal relationships do it for you, or if the lives and loves of millenials are intriguing.

Don't see it if you're easily annoyed by personality quirks that become heightened over the length of a play.

Lovely, Great acting, Small, Absorbing, Intelligent

See it if you want to see great performances in a sweet little play.

Don't see it if you have trouble with characters turning out and narrating.

Clever, Edgy, Great writing, Original, Profound

See it if You love art

Don't see it if You're bored easily

Cast & Creatives (10)