With the Cherry Lane Theatre, Kairos Italy Theater has produced three new plays from Italy by established Italian playwrights. Directed by Laura Caparrotti, each play deals with perception of ‘the other,’ telling stories about encounters with people from different cultures. As stories the works are topical and compelling, as theatrical pieces they are lacking visual intrigue.
A Story of Love and Soccer by Michele Santeramo tells the story of many ethnic groups in a small town in Italy. Two brothers tell about the first ever Clandestine World Cup, a soccer tournament put in place to determine which ethnic group is in charge of the town for a full year. As the community comes together to put on the matches, they learn how to live together – and they learn a lot about love. The actors, Dave Johnson and Eric Gravez, tell the story with energy and they interact with ease. Eric Gravez plays the softer, talented soccer player who falls in love with an Indian woman, while Dave Johnson plays his business savvy, brassy brother. The two are a good match. While the writing is riveting and poetic, and the actors are dedicated to the story, we are simply watching two men tell a story. The movement on stage is far less interesting than the story itself.
The Journey I Never Made by Paolo Bignami depicts two women from different backgrounds waiting for a train. Petra (Paloma Pilar) is taking the train back to her home country while Silvia (Carlotta Brentan) is seeking a new start in a different country. As the play goes on, we learn that the women, though different and wary of each other, share similar experiences of immigration. As they move between dialogue and internal monologue, we learn about their prejudices and desires. If there is any conflict in the situation, it arises from how they react to the cancellation of their train. Petra is very easy going and relaxed while Silvia is uptight and concerned about potential circumstances. Paloma Pilar and Carlotta Brentan work very well together on stage, they play opposites well and their patience with silence evokes intriguing moments on stage. There are two very abstract sections of the play that highlight the characters’ experience with leaving and arriving. These moments are the most theatrical and compelling to watch even though the show maintains a singular tone throughout.
The third play, Enrico IV by Luigi Pirandello starring Rocco Sisto, plays separately from the above mentioned plays. I did not see Enrico IV though it appears to be just as compelling in theme and content.
AlieNation, Kairos Italy Theater, The Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street. Closes December 3rd.