A Room of my own has ROOM For Everyone!

Picture this…the village 1979 a run down one room apartment that sleeps four. This is the setting for Charles Messina’s deeply personal new play, A Room of my Own. Messina, who also directs the piece gives us an authentic look into an all Italian family and the struggles they overcome to stay together. We are instantly transported into the chaos, loudness, and love that this family shares. The only thing louder than the many explicatives in the piece is its huge heart, which draws you in no matter how unwilling you may be.

Adult Carl Morelli is a 40ish man trying to write a play about his family, as he remembers them. However, his characters don’t behave and despite his best efforts to reign them in, he can’t and the play takes on its own life with or without its playwright’s permission. It’s Christmas time at the Morellis and that brings the families financial struggles to the forefront. But Mama, Dotty Morelli, is determined to see her children have a good Christmas, no matter the sacrifice. Dotty is the glue that holds this family together. Dotty’s brother Jackie is a somewhat closeted homosexual, who happens to live in the same building. All hell breaks loose when Dotty invites an unexpected guest for New Year’s Eve. But, like most times, Dotty has a very specific reason for inviting this person.

The cast is sensational. Ralph Macchio plays the Adult Carl Morelli brilliantly. Never once over-acting, just giving us a true honest portrayal of a writer wavering with his past. Joli Tribuzio plays the overly emotional Dotty Morelli with exceptional skill. Just when you think she’s all fire, she gives us a tender moment where we understand what she’s fighting for. We feel everything she feels, and she feels a lot, and that deserves our accolades. Mario Caritone does a great job as the impassioned Jackie. Caritone is a comic genius. But hands down. Little Carle Morelli, played by Nico Bustamante steals the show. His delivery is always spot on and the strange moments when he interacts with Macchio magic happens. He’s one to watch out for in years to come.

This is one of the best plays I have seen in a while. After a visit with the Morellis you’ll feel like one of the family for better or worse,

A Room of My Own plays at the June Havoc Theater 312 W 36th St.

You are Perfect is On its Way to Getting There!

Charles Manson. Need I say more? The name conjures up images every time its uttered. Is he a hero? Legend? Lover? Villain? What made so many follow him? These questions permeate every inch of You are Perfect, a new play by Cyndy Marion. White Horse Theater Company takes on this piece and does an adequate job exploring its nuances.

The play centers around Susan Atkins, one of Manson’s followers and conquests. But who is Susan? We are never quite sure until the very end of the play. In a small jail cell two women, one of which is the real Susan, re-hash their involvement with the infamous Mason and Helter Skelter. But why couldn’t Susan kill Sharon Tate as instructed? Was it mercy or cowardice on Susan’s part that prevented her from taking Tate’s life? We are left pondering until the play takes an abrupt turn and all hell breaks loose.

Unfortunately, just as the play finds its rhythm, we are jolted by new information that confuses everyone, including the actors. Sometimes blurring the lines between reality and fantasy can be wonderful, but here it just muddies the water and leaves us guessing. The plays strength lies in the exploration of cowardice, mercy, and love. I hope Marion will dive deeper into these arenas as they bear the most fruit.

The cast does a satisfactory job with this script. Nancy Wolfe is by far the stand out in the piece. She is fiery, yet vulnerable. Wolfe is the most connected and we are drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Brad Burgess makes a fair attempt at playing Charles Manson. I could not tell whether he was trying to impersonate Manson, bit it comes off as slightly cliché. I wish Burgess would invent Manson for himself and give us his portrayal, rather than a stereotype. Also Carlotta Brentan, who may or may not be Susan Atkins, struggles to find her footing. But again, it is the script’s current state that equals the performances given.

Yet, I hope Marion will further develop this piece. It has raw, emotional grit that could be compelling if developed further. Right now, its a diamond in the rough. But nonetheless there is a diamond somewhere in the play that is dying to be discovered more completely.

You are Perfect plays now through Feb 20th at The Workshop Theater Company Main Stage 312 W 36th St.