Italian American Reconciliation at B Street Theatre
Italian American Reconciliation
Sacramento, CA 95814
It’s hard to go wrong with a script by John Patrick Shanley. He’s the guy who wrote both the Oscar-winning movie Moonstruck and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt, and he really knows his way around a stage. Italian American Reconciliation, a romantic comedy set in New York, is cut from a cloth very similar to Moonstruck, with descendants of Italian immigrants trying to find their emotional bearings.
B Street Theatre’s new production brings a little extra to the show, starting with a delightfully schmucky performance from David Pierini. Really, Pierini’s Aldo Scalicki is the kind of guy you just want to feed soup, pat on the head and tell that everything’s going to be all right. Aldo is a mama’s boy who wants to masquerade as a player, and Pierini gives him the characteristics of a “good fella” in the original meaning of the phrase—he’s pretty much a nice guy, not the sharpest tool in the shed but loyal to a fault.
The play begins as a morality tale that Aldo presents to the audience, hoping to enlighten us about how hard life is for men because of women. He begins by telling about the time his best friend Huey went “a little nuts,” holing up in his apartment, writing poetry and dressing like a pirate. Of course, Aldo had to investigate, and so the play unfolds.
He discovers that Huey is frantic to reconcile with his ex-wife. As if this wasn’t enough complication, Huey has a perfectly good girlfriend. Disregarding Aldo’s advice to be happy with what he has, Huey enlists Aldo as aide to prepare the ex-wife for a thoroughly Italian-American reconquista. It’s Cyrano de Bergerac gone horribly, horribly wrong, since Huey’s ex, Janice (Lee Fitzpatrick) has a zip gun and is not afraid to use it.
Did we mention that some of the comedy is very, uh, broad?
In between the domestic action, the audience is treated to seriously funny (and right on point) discussions of the meaning of manhood, loyalty, love and marriage.
As Teresa, Huey’s new girlfriend, Nancy Zoppi has plenty to say about who is being treated badly in his planned reconciliation with his ex-wife. Zoppi fully confirms first impressions; those who saw her in New Helvetia Theatre’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch already knew she had a heavenly voice, and in Italian American Reconciliation, we discover her comedic chops. Teresa is aided and abetted in her very accurate analysis of what’s wrong with men such as Huey and Aldo by Aunt May (Barbara Gruen), who demonstrates an incisive wit and a surprising romantic streak. Ultimately, May is the voice of reason in matters of the heart.
In all comedies, timing is everything; Italian American Reconciliation benefits from the able direction of Jerry Montoya, who has the players moving in such a way that the conversation pops rather than drags or bounces from joke to joke.
Yes, it’s a light piece, but it’s light in a good way. The guys are dolts, but they’re not mean; the women are long-suffering, but they get their shots in (sometimes literally). Ultimately—and all laughter aside—the point is that we do the best we can, and sometimes that means we have to pick up and start over. Not bad advice, even if you don’t happen to have an Italian-American aunt to give it.