Sisters with secrets meet after a long separation in Hannah Benitez’s Dike, now onstage at Urbanite Theatre, and while the situation doesn’t lead to melodramatic explosions, the play does examine the walls (hence the play title) that fear and differing views on religion can put up between people.
Benitez is a young playwright, and Dike is a new play, one that may be considered still in the developmental stage. (It received an earlier production at the New York Theater Workshop, and three of its cast members here were also in that cast.) So there are moments here that, whether due to the writing, the acting, or the directing (by Tatiana Pandiani, who also helmed the New York show) can feel hesitant, overly earnest or static.
But there are also moments conveying genuine love, pain and discovery in Dike, which opens when Kirsten (Kelly Pekar), a nurse who has recently launched into a lesbian relationship with Charlotte (Jen Diaz), arrives in Dublin to visit her younger sister, Rachel (Alice Marcondes). The sisters were raised in a strict Catholic family, and while Rachel loves Kirsten, it’s by no means certain she can accept her newfound sexuality. Plus, little sister has a secret of her own (not all that surprising a one, although reviewers have been asked not to reveal it) that may cause a deeper division between the two.
Charlotte, more experienced and happy with her own identity, and Rachel’s Irish friend Marian (Morgan Meadows) may seem to be bystanders to the main conflict between the siblings, but their characters are not one-dimensional. In fact, two of the strongest scenes in the play feature Charlotte, a Latina, trying to form a bond over breakfast with Rachel, and Marian and Rachel discussing faith and doubt in the religious library where they work while pursuing their graduate degrees.
That there can be many kinds of love, including Rachel’s for Jesus Christ, is evident in Dike. Benitez doesn’t settle for pat answers as to the characters’ futures, and that’s a good thing. Thanks to her openness, and the strength and commitment of the actresses here, you will care about the eventual outcome—but you won’t necessarily know it.
Dike continues through Dec. 16; for tickets call 321-1397 or visit urbanitetheatre.com.