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.