Vigil- a theatre review

Kemp (Marco Barricelli) is a self-involved middle- aged a-sexual man, rushes to his aunt’s (Olympia Dukakis) bedside after receiving a letter from her that she is dying.

Not having seen her in 30 years he is less than thrilled to realize he may have come in vain. To him she seems to have little ambition to die and to his demise is still knitting and “kicking” instead.

After rehashing his family’s passed, feeding her butterscotch pudding for a couple of days and trying to take over the household, Kemp becomes more and more impatient revealing his true motives of his visit: having his aunt sign her will over to him and helping her die faster.

Spring turns into summer and summer becomes winter and Kemp seems more and more agitated. He disappears for a day only to return with a huge machine he built to kill his aunt. After three unsuccessful ways trying to kill his aunt by knocking her out with a pan and trying to poison her, he ends up electro shocking himself and barely gets away with his own life.

New Years eve rolls around and it is evident that their relationship has developed into a settle friendship. While sipping champagne over laughs, observing their neighbors, Kemp realizes shockingly that his prolonged visit may have changed his life forever.

Written and directed by Morris PanychVigil is a poignant satire that deals with life, death, love and “pizza”.

Performed by a strong cast including Marco Barricelli and Olympia Dukakis, the play brings enough funny moments for a somewhat serious subject: cultivating family relationships and dealing with death. Their relationship unfolds visibly and beautifully in less than 2 hours on stage and shows how desperate and appreciative old people are for a little companionship. Despite a lot of monologues in the play, Barricelli manages not to over stage Dukakis and almost facilitates her to be more enchanting and expressive in her movements as the “quiet old lady”.

Barricelli, artistic director of the Shakespeare Company Santa Cruz, having performed in many theatre classics, seems at ease playing out Kemp’s never ending thoughts on stage. Both with many theater awards under their belt and despite their similar classical theatre background they both seem to cultivate a much different in acting style on stage.

Olympia Dukakis who built her career on big movies such as Moonstruck, Cloudburst, Steel Magnolias, Look Who’s talking, Mighty Aphrodite, Blond Bombshells, Dad and Mr. Holland’ Opus, has also enjoyed a successful career Off-Broadway and performed in several Shakespeare plays in London and New York. Both have taught at different universities across the U.S and Barricelli taught in Italy.


Vigil plays at the Center Theatre Group/ Mark Taper Forum through December 18.

For more information on the play and tickets visit  


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