Does being a good friend necessarily have to include risking life and limp, literally?
For Italian American Everyman Aldo (John Collela), absolutely. Reluctantly, but absolutely. In addition to being a generally nice guy and good son who hangs out at a local pizzeria, Aldo has been trying to keep tabs on his best bud, the utterly heartbroken Huey (Andy Lauer). The writer has never recovered from losing the love of his life, ex-wife Janice, and Huey wanted Aldo to help broker a beautiful reunion.
All Huey is asking is for Aldo to grease the rails with Janice before Huey makes his big pitch to get her back. Huey’s request would seem reasonable to the casual observer, until a few extraneous facts are illuminated. First, Huey is already in another relationship with waitress Teresa (Cloe Kronwell). Second, Janice (Amy Jacobson) owns a gun. Yes, a cap gun, but a gun nonetheless. She has been known to wield other weapons with frightening skill, such as unwanted bouquets of flowers and her unpredictable, hair-trigger rage.
I really enjoyed Italian American Reconciliation. The show was a weird hodgepodge of styles and moods and humor. The essential yet invisible skill of taut comic timing is a treat to behold in this production. Collela bookends the show with a delightful ‘character bit’ that turns out to be more than a bit of clever misdirection on the part of director Rae Allen. Aldo’s fourth-wall shattering, comic monologue recesses easily into this goofball world of over-serious characters, scheming to attain "the one". Collela and Lauer are well balanced as ridiculous romantic and voice of reason, tangoing awkwardly to different tunes. Collela and Jacobson are equally entertaining in their ironic exploration of a mischievous, twist, darkly romance that never came to be.
The character revelations in John Patrick Shanley’s piece are thankfully messy or unpredictable; however, the execution of this story was certainly well crafted and felt quite genuine. Life is not neat; it’s messy. Sometimes things work out, or don’t work out… just because. And that’s OK.
Italian American Reconciliation runs through January 23, 2010 at:
Ruskin Group Theater Company
3000 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Free parking at Theatre
Photos by Agnes Magyari