Past Reviews

Off Broadway Reviews


Theatre Review by Howard Miller - September 20, 2023

Jeffrey Bean, Andrea Syglowski, and Triney Sandoval
Photo by Justin Swader
The promotional material for Theresa Rebeck's Dig, a production of Primary Stages opening tonight at 59E59 Theaters, describes it as a play about "courage, redemption, and photosynthesis." All of this is true, actually, including the photosynthesis part. But even more, it is about a human hurricane named Megan, who storms into her hometown and upturns the lives of everyone she comes into contact with, including her own.

Rebeck, who also directs the play, is a prolific playwright and screenwriter who has had several of her works produced off and on Broadway through the years, with her latest, I Need That, a comedy starring Danny DeVito, about to open at the American Airlines Theatre. Along the way, she has garnered a number of honors, including, significantly, a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for one of her television scripts. This is a side of her writing that very much feeds into Dig, which was first presented as part of the 2019 Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont.

There is a great deal of mystery surrounding Megan and, really, pretty much all of the characters. They will keep you guessing–and most likely misjudging them, just as if you were engrossed in a well-constructed whodunit. There's even a very sad death in Megan's recent past, for which she has accepted responsibility, though, like everything else in the play, the truth of it is buried under layers.

Megan (Andrea Syglowski, giving a mesmerizing, unsettling performance) is an on-and-off-the-wagon alcoholic, a cynical AA meeting attendee with a disturbing history that weighs on her like a ton of bricks. Her response to the world is to alternately lash out and half-heartedly apologize, as if the latter could erase the former. In her mid-thirties, she is currently living at home after a suicide attempt, under the watchful if untrusting eye of her father, Lou (Triney Sandoval). It's a temporary living arrangement that neither of them cares for.

If Megan is the thoroughly unpredictable hurricane here, then Roger (Jeffrey Bean) is, or at least wants to be, the calm eye of the storm. He is the owner of a plant shop (beautifully and realistically designed by Christopher Swader and Justin Swader), whose name gives the play its title and where all of the action takes place. Roger, a longtime friend of Lou, is a bit of a curmudgeon who would be just as happy if no one came into the store while he tends to his greenery, his plants being far more reliable than anyone he knows.

It soon becomes clear that the opposites, Megan and Roger, will come together in some fashion. But once more, the way this relationship evolves is as unforeseeable as it would be in real life. The same is true when it comes to the play's other three characters: Everett (Greg Keller), a seemingly gentle if oddball stoner who has been working for Roger; Molly (Mary Bacon), a customer with a strong religious bent who manages to be both judgmental and supportive of Megan; and Adam (David Mason), someone who shows up in the second half and sends Megan reeling back into the hell from which she has been desperately trying to escape.

Dig is a psychologically rich play about complicated people and tangled relationships. Theresa Rebeck shows herself to be a skilled director of her own work, and the cast members, several of whom are repeating the roles they performed in the original production, are top-notch. Andrea Syglowski, in particular, is a force of nature as she inhabits the role of the damaged and damaging Megan.

Through October 22, 2023
Primary Stages
59E59 Theaters, Theater A, 59 E. 59th St., New York NY
Tickets online and current performance schedule: