ITALIAN AMERICAN RECONCILIATION”  A DEVILISHLY FUNNY COURTSHIP

 

Bonnie Goldberg

Remember Samson who purportedly lost his strength when his hair was cut off, thanks to a conniving Delilah?   Think about Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” when Petruchio courts the devilish, headstrong Kate to try to subdue her devious ways.  Ponder how Cyrano de Bergerac is asked to woo the lovely Roxane for another suitor who has not the words of love.

Playwright John Patrick Shanley may have had all the aforementioned relationships in mind when he created Aldo the unlikely hero of his comic offering “Italian American Reconciliation” at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, May 22.

John Procaccino easily slips into the skin of one Aldo Scalicki, the unaccustomed champion but masterful storyteller of the tale.  Aldo’s best friend Huey Maxmillian Bonfigilano (Mike Crane) has more of a problem than just his name.  He can’t recover his manhood, his strength, (think Samson) until he wins back his ex-wife Janice ( a fiery Lisa Birnbaum).  And that’s where Aldo comes into the picture.  Huey wants Aldo to do his bidding, his wooing for him (think Cyrano).

On a good day Janice can be described as a “nasty fiend” (think of the shrewish Kate) and Aldo is at the same time fascinated and fearful of her.  Their long relationship from childhood involves Janice trying to kill him, which she now explains was flirting on her part.

Toss into the fray Huey’s current squeeze Teresa (Stephanie Dimaggio), who is so confused by Huey’s actions that she is ready to flee him and the country and Aunt May (Socorro Santiago) who is filled with sage advice, but no one is taking the time to listen.  Director Eric Ting has cleverly set the story in a wedding hall designed by Scott Bradley where the characters are celebrating the demise of a marriage rather than the creation of one.

For tickets ($40-70), call the Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Long Wharf will hold its annual gala on Friday, June 3 (dinner, auction, performance $250) that includes the Midtown Man, four stars from the original cast of the “Jersey Boys,”at 7:30 p.m. ($100).  This swingin’ celebration will honor Long Wharf Theatre trustee and community volunteer Louise Endel on her 90th birthday.  Call 203-772-8234 for more information.

 

Tag along with Aldo on his quest to capture the heart of the dangerous dragon, in the guise of the bewitching Janice, where he could learn valuable life lessons but chooses not to pay attention.

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