“Spaghetti” Offers Food for Thought at TheaterWorks
By Tom Holehan
Pity the unsuspected theatergoers who arrive hungry at the TheaterWorks production of “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti”, the new one-woman show that features the on-stage preparation of an Italian dinner. The world premiere comedy, sure to make you drool in your program, is currently in an extended run at the Hartford theatre.
Based on the memoir by Giulia Melucci with a lean and funny stage adaptation by Jacques Lamarre, “Spaghetti” is basically a running monologue by Melucci (played with spirit and charm by Antoinette LaVecchia) about her disastrous love life as a single gal in New York City. Regular viewers of “Sex and the City” will not be surprised at the laundry list of losers she pursues in her quest for love. Indeed there’s a familiarity about her stories as she checks off the various types she dates in categories of age, type and ethnicity. And all the men, naturally, are also commitment-phobes of the first order. Still, Melucci was a hopeless romantic and usually ended up cooking for her boyfriends -- it is, after all, what her Brooklyn mother taught her best.
Which poses an interesting question here: would this play be anything without its central gimmick, the food preparation? “Spaghetti” on stage is, in essence, little more than a stand-up comedy routine. Take away the Italian dinner and what do you have? There is something fascinating, however, about watching Ms. LaVecchia pouring wine, preparing appetizers and salad and making homemade pasta. For me there were times when the mind was distracted to wonder if the sauce needed stirring. The actress, herself, often seemed so wrapped up in the cooking process she lost her train of thought. It’s not hard to see why. She’s a busy girl on stage.
But, eventually, the performance and, what amounts to a play, does work due to the sheer affability of our host, the solid direction of Rob Ruggiero and Mr. Lamarre’s snappy one-liners. If it often seems more like a Kathy Griffin routine toned down for general audiences, it still somehow manages to please its target audience. There were smiles all around the night I caught the show.
Designer John Coyne has created a full working island kitchen that gets plenty of use here -- that dinner is eventually served. A half dozen or so theatergoers, who pay a little extra, are seated at bistro tables near the stage and are fed during the performance. Dinner theatre is alive and well in Hartford…at least for this show.
“I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” continues at TheaterWorks in Hartford through July 14. For further information and ticket reservations, call the theatre box office at 860.527.7838 or visit: www.theaterworkshartford.org.
Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.