By Marlene S. Gaylinn
By coincidence, there are two plays in Connecticut about “Immigrants” -- which just happens to be a front-page news topic these days. “I’ll Eat You Last” (about successful Jewish immigrant and Hollywood talent agent, Sue Mengers), is currently at Music Theatre of CT (MTC) in Norwalk. The other play, a World Premiere called “Napoli, Brooklyn,” (about a family of Italian American Immigrants) is at Long Wharf Theatre (LWT) in New Haven. Both productions are not to be missed.
“Napoli, Brooklyn,” by young playwright Meghan Kennedy, takes place during the rapidly changing period of the early 1960’s, and is semi-autobiographical. While the story centers around the Muscolino family, there are several, true to life themes that are ingeniously interwoven among its members and associated outside characters. The overall theme is about women immigrants and the various facets of love. Their search for personal fulfillment, freedom, the restraints of a long, cultural heritage verses changing, American society tug the individuals in various directions until there is a sudden catastrophe. A plane crash in the middle of this small neighborhood enlightens the family to how precious each moment of life is, and how important it is to accept people for what they are.
The entire cast under the direction of LWT’s Gordon Edelstein is superb. Alyssa Bresnahan, who plays the leading character, “Luda Muscolino” is outstanding. She may remind you of your own mother as she sings her native songs while lovingly preparing nourishing food for her family. Jason Kolotouros plays the strict, angry father, “Nic.” While he bears a hard-life chip on his shoulder, and gives a truly, animalistic, emotional performance, he is not the typical Italian father both in looks or personality – but then, every culture has its own individuals and this is the writer’s story.
The three, struggling sisters, “Francesca” (Jordyn DiNatale), “Tina,” (Cristina Pumariega) and “Vita,” (Carolyn Braver) are believably trapped and pitted against their father. “Connie Duffy” (Ryann Shane) is Francesca’s close girlfriend with whom she plots to escape to France. Graham Winton warmly renders Connie’s father, the Irish Butcher who has a soft spot for Luda. “Celia Jones” (Shirine Babb) tenderly plays the black factory worker who is also blocked from achieving the “American Dream,”
The movie-lot set design by Eugene Lee is imaginative, but a bit confusing to the eye. You will be shocked by the sound and lighting effects by Fitz Patton and Ben Stanton and thanks to fight Directors Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet, the play will shake you up when you leave the theatre.
“Napoli, Brooklyn,” a co-production of Roundabout Theatre Company, will be headed for New York City shortly. Don’t miss seeing it while it’s still here.
Plays to March 12, 2017 Tickets: 1-800-782-8489