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Italian American Reconciliation

a Comedy/Drama
by John Patrick Shanley

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 2268

SHOWING : April 12, 2007 - May 06, 2007



Director Heidi Cline
Technical Director Geoffrey M Brown
Aunt May Lynne Ashe
Janice LaLa Cochran
Teresa Caroline Masclet
Aldo Scalicki Anthony Rodriguez
Huey Maximillian Bonfigliano Al Stilo
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From Nuts to Soup
by Mama Alma
Thursday, May 3, 2007
In Italian-American Reconciliation, Huey, played by Al Stilo, is stymied in his personal life because he's left his heart (and his manhood) with the person of his ex-wife. It's as if he lost his hands, he says, and he's got to go back and find them. This might be understandable, except that Janice, the ex-wife in question, is an unlikable harpy of a woman who shot his dog. Then she tried to shoot him as well. Huey's friend Aldo (Anthony Rodriguez) tries to talk him out of getting back together with Janice, and even goes so far as to hatch a plan of his own to make the ultimate sacrifice (after all, she still has her gun) and romance Janice himself, thus making her "unavailable" to Huey.

The play hits its stride when Aldo puts his plan into action, as he and Janice (Lala Cochrane) dance through a bizarro version of Romeo and Juliet. They're not really made for each other, and they both know it, but there's still some sizzle there. "I wasn't being mean," Janice says, "I was flirting. You were just too dumb to notice." "Believe me," replies Aldo, "if you'da been doing it right, I woulda noticed." We find some understanding for Janice, played by Cochrane as a beautiful wounded lioness of a woman. She'd rather be alone than pitied. She'd rather be feared than ignored. Lala's antics, it turns out, were intended to get a rise out of Huey. The more he accepted her, the more ignored she felt. In a telling exchange Lala tells Huey he never SAW her, and Huey tells her she never HEARD him. When they finally discover they've been doing a kind of reverse double accommodation, dealing at cross purposes, their healing finally begins.

The real reconciliation here, however, is not between Huey and Janice. Setting the play against the background of an Italian neighborhood, we're made keenly aware of "heritage" and where people "come from." But Huey's disconnect is not with his ethnic heritage, but with his personal life. Al Stilo does a masterful job appearing positively shlubbish while pining for Janice. After Huey makes his peace, he emerges a new man, looking like he spent a week at Club Med, a real spring in his step. Even finding that his girlfriend, Teresa, has moved on (to another country altogether) doesn't phase him. He knows he can cope now that he's complete within himself.

Of special note here is Caroline Masclet, who portrays Teresa with sweet conviction as a girl who'll do most anything for the guy she loves except stand around and watch him immolate himself. She recognizes long before Huey does that nothing can happen between them until he divorces himself spiritually from Janice. Lynne Ashe, too, is welcome, providing a good dose of earthy charm as Teresa's Aunt May, who helps midwife Teresa and Huey's budding relationship. While she's waiting for that to heat up, she graciously helps Aldo out as well. In between she serves up the minestrone. We should all have an Aunt May.

What pulls it all together, though, is Anthony Rodriguez's Aldo. He tells us up front that he's telling us a story, but we know it's a true story, because he's got his mom present to verify. He wears his heritage on his sleeve, comfortable about where he's come from ("this is my ma"), who he is ("hey, how ya doin'?"), and where he's going ("I got an engagement"). Even with his wise guy competence, though, we see, in a kind of parenthetical commentary, that Aldo is subject to the same foibles as Huey. He's got a woman that he can't live with, and he can't live without. The difference is that Aldo doesn't psychoanalyze himself. He's a man with an appetite for life and he jumps right in.

There are people in this country who would have us become homogenized, who would do away with our Greek Festivals, our St. Paddy's Parades, our Cinco de Mayos. To me, that would kind of be like eating unsalted soda crackers for the rest of your life. Which would be a shame when there's so many rich cannelloni and ziti and lasagna, not to mention tamales, enchiladas, souvlaki, moving along to sopapillas, risogalo, baklava, gelato, you get the idea. As Auntie Mame said, life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. So enjoy!

As an aside, Italian-American Reconciliation is slated to be the last show in the Aurora Interim Space. Run, do not walk (well, actually, you might want to drive) up to Lawrenceville and beg Tony, AC or Al to take you on a tour of the cathedral, um, castle, the new home of the Aurora. It's gorgeous, and it's going to be a blast getting to see and do theater there.

So many plays, so little time.


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