Monthly Archive for: ‘February, 2014’

NAPOLI! has a split personality at A.C.T.

Seana McKenna as Amalia and Marco Barricelli as Gennaro in Napoli! at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne

Napoli! Comedy/Drama by Eduardo de Filippo in a new translation by Beatrice Basso and Linda Alper. Directed by Mark Rucker .  A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco).  415.749.2228 or www.act-sf.org.   February 12- March 9, 2014.

NAPOLI! has a split personality at A.C.T.      Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

We here in the United States have never suffered the physical and emotional damage of our home land being physically ravaged by war. Italy has not been so fortunate and in World War II Naples was incessantly bombed leading to devastating shortages of every household staple and a black market became rampant. This is the Naples that Eduardo de Filippo has created for the Jovine family and their neighbors that is gracing the boards at A.C.T. It is late 1942 when the War has been raging for two years and the Allies are bombing Naples prior to the invasion.

The family consists of matriarch Amalia (Seana McKenna) her husband Gennaro (Marco Barricelli) and their children, 25 year old son Amedeo (Nick Gabriel), teenage daughter Maria (Blair Busbee) and the unseen 5 year old daughter who becomes a significant part of the storyline late in act 2.  Gennaro, a voluble but genial World War I veteran who has lost his job as a streetcar driver has found some privacy in their restricted quarters by setting up curtains around his corner bed. He is a moralistic honest man and has been given long speeches conveying de Filippo’s philosophy (Filippo played the role initially and in many countries).  Barricelli delivers those lines with quality understated eloquence and is matched by Mckenna’s more dominant and less amiable personae that are written into the script.  She has undertaken the job of keeping the family fed and clothe through black market dealings aided and abetted by handsome Errico (Dion Mucciacito) whose interest is a bit carnal but secretive.

The play is bookended by scenes of coffee taking that is intended as a symbolic ritual of what is good and bad in the lives of the characters. In the early scene the denizens of the neighborhood gather in the Jovine home (set by Erik Flatmo ) to partake of their morning coffee fix made with bootleg coffee. Those denizens are an eclectic group that is populated with stock characters of Italian comedy that are given varying degrees of verisimilitude by the large cast.

Comedy dominates the first act even though Gennaro pontificates as the storyline slowly develops. Local darling Sharon Lockwood lights up the stage with her entrance as neighbor Adeliade with her ditzy niece Assunta (a fine Lisa Kitchen). A jealous competitive black-marketeer tips authorities about the illegal dealings by Amalia. This allows de Fillipo to write a comedia del arte scene that is a highlight of the act . . . especially when the beans (coffe beans of course) are spilled. Former A.C.T. favorite Greg Wallace as Ciappa the local police lieutenant nails the scene.

Act two takes place 14 months later when the Americans and British have “liberated” Naples from Nazi control and Amalia and her clan have prospered to the point of being millionaires with ample supplies for the black market being “available” from the Allies. The drab set is now opulently furnished having been paid for by the ill-gotten money. Without revealing the plot, it is sufficient to say that the comedy of act one is replaced with serious drama. This involves the unseen child who is seriously ill with an unexplained fever that requires a medicine that can only be obtained on the black market. Fortunately Gabriel Marin has been cast as a supplier of goodies for a party being given for Errico’s birthday and his entrance and exits are a joy to watch. The play ends with Gennaro and Amalia sharing a cup of coffee.

All in all the evening seems longer than the 2 hour running time that includes a 15 minute intermission.

Creative Team: Erik Flatmo (scenic designer), Lydia Tanji (costume designer), Robert Wierzel (lighting designer), Will McCandless (sound designer)

Featuring: Marco Barricelli, Seana McKenna, Nick Gabriel, Blair Busbee, Dion Mucciacito, York Walker, Mike Ryan, Anthony Fusco, Sharon Lockwood, Lisa Kitchens, Gabe Marin, Gregory Wallace, Aaron Moreland, Lateefah Holder, Danielle Frimer, Kemiyondo Coutinh, Asher Grodman, Dillon Heape.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazin.com

Seana McKenna as Amalia and Marco Barricelli as Gennaro in Napoli! at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Photo by Kevin Berne

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