Don't Give Up the Ship
Type of Show
Full-length Play
Performance Type
2 acts
100 min
Performing Groups
Professional Theatre
Community Theatre
Movement Requirements
Tech Requirements
Cast Summary
4W, 1M (or 1NB, 3W, 1M)
When Diana, a middle-aged mother of two, wakes up as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812, she suddenly commands much more of her life than she used to. Imagining that her daughters are warring lieutenants, her ex-husband is her four-year-old son, and her nurse Lizzie is her darling wife, Diana establishes an identity that is much closer to her true self than anyone expected. Don't Give Up the Ship intimately examines that notion of self and how it affects those we love the most. Playwright Laura Neill has built a fantastical world, from epic naval battles with Swiffers to sailing the high seas from the bedroom, all while keeping her microscope focused tightly on one family. 

“Neill’s writing is fast-paced, multi-dimensional, and humorous. Her characters are complex, and true to life…a highly entertaining production.” –Angelica Potter, Onstage Blog

“Well worth the time of audience members seeking exciting, unconventional theater… Neill uses the fantastic as a lens through which to examine real domestic traumas.”
 –Erik Nikander, ArtsFuse

After nearly drowning in Narragansett Bay, Diana begins to live her life as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, an American hero of the War of 1812; she assigns parts to those around her and expects them to play in her drama. She casts her younger daughter, Olive, as her right‐hand man Lieutenant Saunders. To her homophobic daughter, Martha, she assigns the part of Lieutenant Eliot, a cowardly subordinate who refuses to take action in battle, and her ex‐husband Jeff is cast even more unflatteringly as her four‐year‐old son. But to her nurse, Lizzie, she assigns the part of Elizabeth Champlin Mason, Perry's wife, and she begins a romantic affair that would shock her daughters and ex‐husband if they knew. Diana leads her family on a wild ride through the Battle of Lake Erie, raging storms aboard the USS Niagara, and confrontations with unruly officers, all the while growing more deeply attached to Lizzie. But Diana doesn't belong exactly in either world‐‐she isn't fully Perry, and she can't commit to the heterosexual "reality" of her old life. As her daughters try to sway her towards Venezuela‐‐the place of Perry's death‐‐and Lizzie begins to claim her affection, Diana must choose between the fiction she's created and the fiction she's been living her entire life. Driven by her love for her daughters, she reluctantly bids Lizzie goodbye. When she faces Martha’s rage at the revelation of her sexual orientation, Diana embraces her daughter but will not apologize for her identity. She ends the play retracing the steps of a dance the Commodore danced with Lizzie.
4W, 1M (or 1NB, 3W, 1M)
Female or non-binary, 40s-50s, acts as COMMODORE OLIVER HAZARD PERRY, 20s.
Female, 20s, Diana's daughter, acts as Perry's Lieutenant SAUNDERS, 20s.
Female, 20s, Diana's daughter, acts as Perry's nemesis ELLIOT, 30s.
Female, 20s, Diana's nurse and lover, acts as Perry's wife ELIZABETH C. MASON, 20s.
Male, 40s-50s, Diana's ex-husband, acts as Perry's son OLLIE HAZARD, 4.
Uproar Theatrics 2024