Crossing Delancey, Saint Sebastian Players, at Saint Bonaventure Church. The musty basement odor of a parish auditorium is well suited to the mothballed ethos of Susan Sandler’s play: lonely, bookish New Yorker Isabelle Grossman is trying to meet the right fella. Torn between her devotion to her loving, sensible grandma and her desire for independence, Isabelle must ultimately choose between the old and the new world, between the purportedly suave goyish author Tyler Moss and old reliable Sam the pickle man. At long last, she comes to learn that old ways are often the best ways.
Made into a passably diverting film in 1988, Crossing Delancey offers a charming but facile take on the merits of preserving one’s own heritage versus assimilation. But the fact that Tyler is a ridiculous cad and Sam a virtual saint turns this legitimate subject for debate into a foregone conclusion.
Jim Masini, directing for Saint Sebastian Players, delivers an earnest, sluggish production that too often veers into the realm of caricature, despite a winning performance from Sheila Baker as everybody’s favorite bubbie. In particular Nancy Pollock as the meddling matchmaker Hannah is a Semitic gargoyle right out of a David Lynchian Skokie nightmare. The fault lies less with the far-from-electrifying production, however, than with Sandler’s limited worldview: it seems Isabelle’s predicament can be solved by choosing one of two dopey guys.