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Unsafe

A Psychological Thriller
By Jim Dalglish

Anna Botsford as Lisa and Elliot Sicard as Will. View the Unsafe gallery >

Anna Botsford as Lisa and Elliot Sicard as Will.
View the Unsafe gallery >

As a mid-winter blizzard blankets Manhattan under three feet of snow, a troubled young man with nowhere to go crashes his widowed stepmother's 40th birthday party. His arrival triggers a flurry of memories - fond, painful, and frightening - and unwittingly exposes his family to the danger that haunts him on the abandoned streets below. 

Productions

Cotuit Center for the Arts & Boston Public Works (Co-production)

  • March 31 – April 10, 2016 at Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, Massachusetts
  • April 14 – 30, 2016 at the Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts

Awards

Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) 2007 Award Finalists: Best New Play (Jim Dalglish), Best Actress (Anna Botsford), Promising Young Performer (Natalia & Alexandra Tsourides)

Unsafe was selected as a semifinalist at the 2008 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. 

Reviews

"Unsafe is powerful, relentless, and unsettling... As for (Anna) Botsford, it is impossible to take your eyes of her as Lisa struggles to act as if life could ever be normal again. Her long, slow, slide into decompensation is done gradually and masterfully, until she explodes with one of the most raw catharses I have witnessed. Her performance is painful to experience, and entirely authentic." 
Nancy Grossman, Broadway World
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“…raw and lovely and exquisitely written and acted… Jim Dalglish directs his play with relentless efficiency, bringing his vision to riveting life… a powerful evening of theater. Be brave. Check it out.”
Kilian Melloy, Edge Media Boston
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"The play’s structure is brilliantly conceived, with fantastical sequences and elements blending in with the action... It is rich with metaphor, drama, high action and pathos. This is an ambitious, intelligent and intriguing evening of theater.... A word about the acting: superb."
Carol Panasci, Cape Cod Times
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“Unsafe packs a powerful punch… Jim Dalglish has written a piece that can’t fail to move you…”  
Joanne Briana-Gartner, The Enterprise
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"You ever have one of those moments when you spontaneously start crying and you’re not entirely sure why or where it came from? That’s how I felt after watching Unsafe... Elliot Sicard as Will was so emotionally committed to telling this story that I immediately recognized a piece of myself in his character. The love that he portrayed for Georgie was genuine and devastatingly beautiful all at once. Anna Botsford as the haunted Lisa delivered a fantastic performance, but reached new levels of raw, psychological unraveling during the show’s second act that my heart broke for her character. And Michelle Pelletier as grandmother Yvonne was sharp in her comedic timing and knew how to command the attention, drawing out a number of laughs but then bringing us to our knees during the show’s devastating conclusion...it made me feel, it made me cry, and I felt like I had witnessed raw emotion. Yes, it was lengthy, but perhaps this is all we should ever expect art to accomplish."
- Travis Manni, NE Theatre Geek
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"Dalglish has pulled off a remarkable feat, taking something we all feel we've survived and assimilated, and making the ultimate reveal, namely that we have all been forever changed and, denial aside, we now must be wary, vigilant and, if not precisely unsafe, at least unsettled. This playwright saw something, and said something... Tsourides is amazingly believable for such a young performer. Not since "The Mirracle Worker" has a play depended so profoundly on the skill of a child actor." 
-Jack Craib, South Shore Critic
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Characters

Lisa - Attractive 40-year-old professional pianist.
Georgie - Lisa’s 8-year-old daughter.  Georgie has Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder caused by the deletion of 26 genes in the long arm of chromosome seven.  Williams People tend to be socially garrulous and musically gifted, yet have over-sensitive hearing and cognitive difficulties with spatial relationships and numbers.  They have facial features often described as “Elfin” and tend to have heart disorders.
Yvonne - Lisa’s mother, early 60s.  An upper-class woman who knows her way around New York. 
Guy - Lisa’s father and Yvonne’s husband, late 70s.  Rather imperious.
Nathaniel - A neurologist, mid 30s.  He is the author of a best-selling book concerning the role of the senses in the perception of reality.  He is currently conducting research for a new book on genetic disorders.  He’s brilliant with neuroscience, yet awkward with people.
Will - A young man, 21.  A charismatic storyteller.
Wild Boys - Four young men who change the sets and narrate the provide the voices in the final scene.

Setting

Place - Manhattan.  Lisa’s loft in Tribeca.  Yvonne & Guy’s Upper East Side co-op. 
Time   The play begins on the evening of February 5, 2003 – the day that Colin Powell testified before the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  It ends six months later.

Scenic Design

The three settings – Lisa’s loft, her bedroom and Yvonne and Guy’s study – may be suggested with minimal set pieces.  The plan should be open and evocative rather than literal.

Length

2 hrs; 10 mins 

Type

Psychological thriller

Themes

National obsession with security; life after 9-11; dealing with loss; drug addiction; Williams Syndrome

Acting Class Scenes

Monolog (Yvonne) pp. 126-128
Monolog (Will) pp. 98-99;  pp. 103-106
Dialogue (Will & Lisa) pp. 72-82; 83-116

Script Completed

Summer 2007

Production History

Full Production - Cotuit Center for the Arts & Boston Public Works (Co-production)
March 31 – April 10, 2016 at Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, Massachusetts
April 14 – 30, 2016 at the Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts

Reading - Cotuit Center for the Arts
Workshop Readings - Boston Accomplices; Neighborhood Playhouse (Charles Maryan’s Playwrights and Directors Workshop); Provincetown Playwright's La

Playwright Notes

I was in downtown New York on the morning of September 11, 2001, setting up for a presentation in a conference room on the 59th floor of the Standard & Poor’s building.  All of a sudden all hell broke loose.  I looked out the window and saw… well… what we all saw on TV. A huge rip cutting across the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I’m still haunted by the vivid memory of what happened that day - to me, my colleagues and all the people who fled the financial district after the towers collapsed.

What has haunted me most is how that tragedy has affected people’s lives for years afterward. I think we are still grappling with that, the impact of the tragedy not only on a national and international level, but also on a deeply personal level.

With one horrible act of terrorism we have become insecure as a culture. This insecurity has seeped down to the very core of our society – the family. Unsafe explores this insecurity and how one family struggles to overcome tragedy. In the course of the play, I take the audience to some interesting, dangerous, and thrilling places, culminating in a devastating ending that is not without hope.

The play has been germinating for a while.  For a long time I think people did not want to see plays about 9/11 and its aftermath, but I believe the world is finally ready for it.

Production Video

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes of the world-premiere production of Unsafe.


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