By Marlene S. Gaylinn

At Long Wharf Theatre, award-winning playwright, John Shanley’s “Italian American Reconciliation takes place at an Italian catering hall during the aftermath of a wedding.  Symbolically, the five characters are cleaning up the debris around someone else’s failed marriage, while enacting what this commitment to love means to each of them.

  Under Eric Ting’s direction, “Aldo” (John Procaccino) as the narrator/actor, toasts the arriving theatre patrons as if they are his fellow wedding guests – and thus, we are invited directly into the action and the tale that is about to unfold.  It seems that Aldo’s friend, “Huey Maximillian Buonfigliano” (Michael Crane) is very unhappy about his love life.  He has recently broken off with his wife, the dominating “Janice” (Lisa Birnbaum) while courting “Teresa” (Stephanie DiMaggio).  It seems that he can’t go on with his new love until he proves to himself that he is still a man.  So when Aldo forces him into the scene, Huey, a skinny looking weakling appears dressed in a woman’s frilly bolero and a red sash – a costume described as resembling “ The Count of Monte Cristo.”   Assumedly this get-up is to give him courage to prove his manly domination over Janice.  Since Janice has such a violent temper, Aldo decides to soften her up before his friend arrives.  There is not much of a plot but what follows is a comedy of words, hot tempers, unexpected actions and wise, philosophical dissertations surrounded by colorful elements taken from the Italian cultural heritage. 

  Some wise advice is issued by Socorro Santiago who plays the older “Aunt May.”  Santiago expertly holds the play together while interacting with the lovelorn Teresa and Aldo, who is also unsuccessful at having a lasting relationship.   All five actors comprise a feisty, Italian ensemble to be reckoned with.

Plays through May 22                                               WWW.LONGWHARF.ORG/203-787-4282

This review appears in “On Connecticut Theatre” May/2011


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