VIGNETTES OF AN I-TALIAN AMERICAN GIRL
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
There is no doubt that the playwright and solo performer of this current play at Seven Angels Theatre, Maria Baretta, is extremely talented. She doesn’t need a cast of players to characterize her typical Italian family because they are an ingrained part of her. Totally uninhibited, Ms. Baretta, dances across the stage while her emotions pour out effortlessly. What this performer does very well is capture the flavor of her culture as she tells about a very personal tragedy. There are many poignant remarks and her mother’s line, “...I should have been picking out a wedding dress instead of a coffin,” is particularly touching for anyone who has lost a daughter.
The problem is that everyone encounters some great loss sooner or later and each individual feels that he or she has a unique story to tell. Death is unfair -- especially when it unexpectedly hits a young person. Aside from the emotional retelling of this event at each performance, it is most difficult to move an audience by your personal experience unless your story has something very significant to impart. Otherwise, the acting becomes a form of self-therapy and the audience members begin to feel like voyeurs.
The program notes state that this was originally an award-winning one-act play. Perhaps, stretching the two court scenes and including family talk about lesbians etc. (that have nothing to do with the play or its momentum) detracted from the playwright’s main point -- which is how Maria changed through this horrible experience.
Waterbury audiences seem to be largely composed of retired persons of Italian and Irish Catholic descent. And, this talented, young writer happens to be a native of Waterbury -- which is a star plus for this isolated town. However, by the play’s title, “Vignettes of an Italian American Girl,” and a publicity photo of a smiling girl sitting on a front stoop, one certainly would expect a light-hearted treatment about an Italian family. Because it is quite unlike the usual fare at 7 Angeles, people should be forewarned that this is a very emotional, unhappy play.
Plays to April 22
Box Office: 203 757 4676