The Princess of President Street, Illinois Theatre Center. Deborah is struggling to preserve the historic apartment building in Brooklyn she owns with her father by winning it landmark status, something her two fun-loving sisters and moneygrubbing dad can’t understand. She feels tied to the building’s Jewish history, but they just want her to marry wimpy leech Steve and move to a house in Westchester.

There’s potential here: Deborah’s mother is a vegetable who threw herself off the building’s ledge, her father (Lawrence Garner) may be manipulating her to hide his own troubled history, and the ghost of Deborah’s grandmother (the lively Judy Rossignuolo-Rice) encourages Deborah (Lisa Fontana) to make a choice that might not be best. Most interesting are Deborah’s ruminations about the faces in the iron grillwork lining the roof–are they happy images of the artisan’s children or visages frozen in horror, glimpsed as a cattle car pulled away to a concentration camp?

Unfortunately, Adam Kraar’s play feels only half-finished; he hasn’t mined his own material. The conflict is resolved too neatly, the emotional drama never takes hold, and the characters are sketchy. More experienced actors might have added some depth, but the ones in this world premiere are not skilled enough. Only Marco Verna as a hunky jack-of-all-trades has the charisma and weight the play desperately needs. With just a few economical gestures, he creates a Brooklyn we can see and almost taste.

–Jennifer Vanasco