Italian American Reconciliation is a little bit Romeo and Juliet, a little bit Cyrano de Bergerac, and a whole lotta Tony Danza.
Edison Kane Productions/Newtown TheatreNewtown Theatre
Wednesday 21 April 2010
Italian American Reconciliation is a little bit Romeo and Juliet, a little bit Cyrano de Bergerac, and a whole lotta Tony Danza. John Patrick Shanley’s little slice of Italo-Americana is light and fluffy entertainment, despite the attempted homicide and dodgy-looking minestrone. Shanley was obviously in full Moonstruck mode when he wrote Italian American Reconciliation – it’s not too difficult to imagine Nicolas Cage or Cher stepping into any of the roles. As such, big hair, big gestures and big vowels are called for, and the cast deliver all these with relish. Our hero Huey (Charles Billch) gamely attempts to re-woo his ex-wife Janice (Louise Bartok), believing that somehow this act of bravado will win him back his manhood. First he must divest himself of his current lady friend Teresa (Romy Teperson), and employ his best mate Aldo (Eddie Khalil) in the tricky business of softening up the trigger-happy Janice. Being a good friend, Aldo does as he is asked, despite his own issues with women. Khalil also directed this production, and I wonder if splitting himself between the tasks of acting and directing his fellow cast members lead to his performance being a little muted. It’s not that he does badly in the role of Aldo, but the character essentially binds everyone else together, and needs to be a little less passive in order to hold his own with all the other Italian-Americans on stage. Billch is entertaining as the noisily unravelling Huey, and both Teperson and Bartok are fun to watch as strong women who aren’t backward in coming forward. Of course no Italian-American comedy or drama would be complete without an older woman dispensing knowledge and wisdom, and in this Aunt May (a terrific performance from Amanda Marsden) proves to be indispensible. It’s odd hearing an important lesson – that you shouldn’t judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a few – being delivered by an ethnic stereotype, but there you go. Overall it’s a pretty good production. Quite a bit of work has been put into the set, lighting and sound design (probably the most elaborate I’ve ever seen at Newtown Theatre), providing a nice cosy atmosphere for this little story to play out. Khalil’s direction keeps things ticking along at a good pace, with the cast delivering their lines with a sense of fun. It’s not Moonstruck, but it is a simple and entertaining story told well. Bookings: (02) 8507 3034 Until 15 May 2010