DATE NIGHT Izzy (Becky Wallace) wants to move into the literary circle of author Tyler (Toby Cordone) in 'Crossing Delancey.' Photograph by Lawrence Whitcomb.
Susan Sandler’s charming romantic comedy Crossing Delancey first hit the stage back in 1985 and made its film debut in 1988. Now it’s Tabard Theatre Company‘s turn. Under the direction of the company’s founder, Cathy Cassetta, the play at Theatre on San Pedro Square provides plenty of laughs.
Sandler’s story has its predictable elements but proves to be far richer than expected at first glance. Izzy, played by Becky Wallace, is a 30-something single woman working in a bookstore on the Upper East Side; she daydreams about a romance with a popular novelist. Toby Cordone’s Tyler is the narcissistic writer who stops by Izzy’s bookstore regularly to see how his books are selling. Even though he can’t remember her name from week to week, Izzy dreams of a romance with Tyler. Every Sunday, Izzy travels to her grandmother’s apartment on the Lower East Side. Bubbie, played by Beverley Griffith, longs for Izzy to find a nice Jewish boy to settle down with.
Bubbie’s kitchen fills the stage, and the bookstore is nothing but a retail desk, suggesting the relative importance of home and family on Izzy’s life. Izzy breaks the fourth wall to explain things and to let the audience in on how she is feeling.
This may be Izzy’s play, but Griffith’s Bubbie steals the show with her electric personality and unassuming wit. She calls on flamboyant matchmaker Hannah (Nora Rousso), to find a match for Izzy. Hannah, whose past may hide something darker than her bubbly personality lets on, sets Izzy up with Sam the pickle maker (Steve Shapiro), who lives in Bubbie’s neighborhood. Predictably, Izzy is not immediately drawn to Sam.
The play’s dynamic traps Izzy between the traditional world of her grandmother and the modern intellectual world she seeks to enter. Tyler and Sam represent opposite ends of the spectrum. But there is more to Sam than meets the eye. He is a poet who studied literature before his father died, and he decided to take over the family business.
The story becomes less about the destination and more about the journey as Izzy realizes what she needs to truly make her happy and struggles with the tension between tradition and assimilation.