The world premiere of James Anthony Tyler’s Dolphins and Sharks, a new comedy that grapples with issues of income inequality and social status, officially opens March 1 Off-Broadway. The play was a finalist for the 2016 O’Neill Playwrights Conference and marks the playwright’s professional debut.
Presented by Labyrinth Theater Company, Dolphins and Sharks began performances at the Bank Street Theater February 9 with direction by Charlotte Brathwaite.
Billed by Labyrinth as a “timely and ferocious comedy,” the new play explores the hot-button topics of income inequality, gentrification, and capitalism. The story is centered on Isabel, who works a stable job in Harlem. When cutbacks threaten the dynamics of her workplace, employees are forced to fight for their jobs and their sanity.
Pernell Walker plays Isabel and is joined by an ensemble made up of Tina Fabrique, Cesar J. Rosado, Chinaza Uche, and Flor De Liz Perez.
“Isabel Peters has a stable job at Harlem Office,“ read production notes for Dolphins and Sharks. “Clock in. Clock out. Get paid. But when an overeager new employee gets hired and an ambitious manager becomes the office's overseer, Isabel finds herself at the center of office politics and down to her last nerve. With cutbacks around the corner, soon everyone’s fighting to keep their jobs and their sanity. Some, though, will do anything to survive.“
The play won the 2015 Fire This Time Festival and was developed through staged readings and workshop performances as part of Labyrinth’s 2015 Up Next and 2016 Barn Reading Series.
The creative team includes Marsha Ginsberg (scenic designer), Zulema Griffin (costume designer), Kent Barrett (lighting designer), Justin Hicks (sound designer), Andrew Schneider (video designer), and Samantha Cotton (production stage manager).
Tickets are $30–$40 and can be purchased by visiting labtheater.org or by calling (212) 513-1080. The Bank Street Theater is located at 155 Bank Street in Manhattan.
(Updated March 1, 2017)