Obie Award-Winning Play by Albert Innaurato
By Marianne Donnelly
Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
On the eve of his twenty-first birthday, confused but adorable Harvard student Francis Geminiani (Christopher Rosado), home on break, is paid a surprise visit by two college friends: sister and brother Judy and Randy Hastings (Victoria Spelman, Jordan Bondurant) whose elevated social background contrasts painfully, but handled gracefully, even compassionately, with Francis’ own humble South Philadelphia circumstances.
During their visit, unsettling incidents expose inner sexual and psychological natures of all. Innocent, inquisitive Judy, who has a crush on Francis, convinces her well-mannered, man-of-the-world brother to lug camping equipment to sleep in the Geminiani-Weinberger shared back yard.
The characters are very “Norman Lear-style.” You have met people like these sometime and somewhere in your life. Mr. Fran Geminiani (Alan Ball) is the consummate big-hearted, welcoming, Italian-American who offers guests mountains of spaghetti, fine cheeses, prosciutto, Chianti and salads even as he is counting his money quietly to himself. He gives his son advice, hugs, and fatherly cajoling.
Next door lives loud, large, lush, suicidal and domineering, Bunny Weinberger (Barbara Brennan) and her hysterically endearing, nebbish, trolley-loving-trike-riding persecuted son, Herschel (Michael Dela Rosa Jr.).
Fran’s girlfriend, Lucille Pompi (Melissa Ritz), brings balance to all the others as they each have their revealing moments.
The play progresses through romantic interests revealed and explored, self-discoveries shared, and differences accepted. The audience finds humor and comfort in the spirit of these two families who stick together through thick and thin. This is a positive “gay” play where the topic is treated with respect.
The Hastings come to enjoy “a slice of life” not likely to be found in their Scarsdale-like origins.
This play was delivered in an enjoyable pace with all actors well cast and fully fleshed out with believable body language (from Francis’ tapping toe to Lucille’s vamping nails). No one overacts, which is a credit to director Michael Lugering (author of The Expressive Actor and the Lugering Method). In “ethnic” characterizations, it can be tempting to push too many stereotypes rather than use cultural gestures, such as tone. Here it all works. Even the Hastings are played likeable and real and not cast as Harvard“silver spoon” snobs.
I always give this note to shows where I had some difficulty with enunciation: Love your consonants and spit them out crisply! Please! It’s not about volume. It’s about crisp speech with deliberate emphasis on p, t, d, s and th, which can be annoyingly sacrificed to high-pitch voice or rapid speech! This is a basic skill of all stage actors. I was pleased to see a play without amplification, and these actors’ projections were remarkable. Never assume you are over enunciating,: especially here in retirement-wonderland.
Finally, the two-story, two-family, aging Brownstone and back yard set is superbly detailed (Molly Bailey) and lit (Glenn DiNicola) with well chosen music from the mid-1970’s by (Megan Morey).
$20.00, $25.00 and $30.00, with discounts available for seniors, military, persons with disabilities, UNLV faculty/staff, and students.
UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office702-895-2787(ARTS); or to purchase online visit the UNLV Performing Arts Center’s website.
Event Sponsor: Nevada Conservatory Theatre