By Madison McAllister and Becca Jennings
It’s Christmas Eve and Terrence, a dim-witted DHX delivery driver, has made the ultimate shipping mistake. He has lost a package. A very important, time sensitive package.
The owner of this missing package is Ayelet, an understandably very upset Israeli woman who speaks (and screams) only Hebrew. Trying his best to save the day, Terrence calls upon the only Jewish person he knows – his childhood friend, Josh – to serve as an interpreter.
Unfortunately, the only “Jewish” Josh can “talk” comes from his limited Bar Mitzvah schooling half his life ago.
Ayelet is now snowed in half a world away from home in a Virginia motel room with Josh, her only hope of tracking down her irreplaceable parcel.
Intended or not, for one evening, they embark on the most awkward and heartwarming accidental blind date imaginable.
“I was struck by the simplicity of connection between two people who spend an entire play together and form a bond even though they do not speak the same language,” FST Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins said of Handle With Care. “It is a testament to intuition and feeling as guides to the deepest of human connection.”
It’s often said that love finds us when we least expect it—sometimes the right role does too. After a few years of performing in English, actress Anat Cogan is looking forward to performing in Hebrew again. Better yet, to perform in a role with the same name as her mother (Ayelet). Talk about fate!
Originally from Israel, just like her character, Anat loves that this play deals with a cultural and language gap. “Today, we need tolerance more than anything,” she shared. “We need to accept and celebrate our differences. That’s what this play does in such a beautiful way.”
Playing the role of Ayelet’s spirited grandmother Edna, who brings Ayelet to the United States, is Marina Re, returning to Sarasota for her 7th production at FST. “FST offers something for everyone, and that is a rare gift,” she shared.
Marina Re is looking forward to making people laugh while sharing lessons on the importance of faith and family. “Like Edna, I am at a point in my life where I can look back at the decisions I’ve made and see how those decisions led me down the roads I’ve traveled. It really does bring clarity and insight,” shared Re. “What I love about this play is how it displays the beauty of aging and wisdom that comes from that.”
Whether you’re Jewish like Ayelet, grew up celebrating “Chanamas” like Josh, believe in St. Peter like Terrence, or fall somewhere in between, there is something in this show for everyone. Handle With Care highlights what is easily forgotten, but matters most – family, friends, love, and connection. These things are the greatest gifts of all, things we should “handle with care.”
For The New York Times, this romantic comedy accomplishes something rare and distinctive. “Mr. Williams has achieved something special,” Anita Gates wrote for the Times. “He has written a Jewish Christmas story.”
Handle with Care played in FST’s Keating Theatre from December 11, 2019 to March 8, 2020.