Seeing a play at Theatre West is always somewhat of an event for me.
Every single play I have seen there, whatever the genre, has never failed to be anything less than brilliant. The actors, the stories, the staging and, most of all, the passion are what makes Theatre West one of the best theatres in LA. You can tell that the plays are crafted with a pure joy at the heart of them. And that joy for theatre is apparent from the moment you walk into the lobby. There’s always a buzz, a tangible excitement, so by the time you are in your seats you know something special is about to happen.
This latest “something special” is the hilarious “Thicker Than Water” by Roy Battocchio. An Italian American family farce performed by some of the best actors I have seen at Theatre West.
Tommy Correlli, played with dry perfection by Joseph Bongiovanni, is the youngest son of a big American Italian family in a panic over the potential loss of their contracting business to the controlling and wonderfully sarcastic Aunt Gertrude, played by deliciously by Constance Mellors, oh how we love to hate her!
Tommy’s sister Marie and brother Carmine, played wonderfully by Heather Alyse Becker and Johnny Ferreti, are panicked about the possibility of losing the business and tell Tommy his father is having a health crises to trick him into flying out from California to assist them in their hair brained scheme to “off” Aunt Gertrude and thereby save the family business.
Shocked and appalled, Tommy is then drawn into another scheme cooked up by Tommy’s father and his uncle, Gertrude’s husband, Uncle Albert. Played by Vince Palmieri and David Mingrino these two brothers have their own, less elaborate plan to save the business. Vince and David are spectacular characters, fully realized and richly drawn and fond memories of The Sopranos will wash over you, although these two are far from criminals and far more lovable.
Mary Garripolli is Mama, and what a quintessential ‘Italian Mama’ she is, played with warmth and humor and love, just wonderful!
Jack Kutcher is superb as the doddering Doctor who seems to be a permanent guest of the household, trading figs for lasagna and treating everything from hysteria to hypertension…Maria Kress plays Meredith Angst, who rents a room at he house and is dating Carmine. Her sweet naiveté played brilliantly by Maria, a joy to watch.
The plot is a lesson in how not to deal with family drama, full of passion, over reaction and comic gold. Roy Bottcchio has gifted us a a glimpse into a world of a family full of so much love they protect it to the death….Aunt Gertrude’s death of course.
I won't tell you everything, it’s so much fun to watch these fantastic characters find their own way through the story it would be a shame to spoil anything. Suffice it to say that if you like plot twists and loud surprises, you won't be disappointed!
Speaking of ‘loud’ this is a beautifully loud family, and the heightened sense of drama fits in perfectly with their ‘Italian’ sensibilities. My only warning, don’t go hungry…the glorious scent of lasagna hits you when you walk in, and everyone is eating throughout…and it looks as real and delicious as the family love of Correlli Contruction.
Oh and there’s a grandma who never ventures out of the basement and who is a lovely comic foil…just brilliant!
If you love to laugh I highly recommend “Thicker Than Water,” my sides really did ache when I got home and I’ve been cooking up Italian food all week!
Thicker Than Water is playing February 5 thru March 13, 2016
Fridays and Saturday at 8pm. Sundays at 2pm.
Call (323) 851-7977
Heather Alyse Becker • Johnny Ferretti • Mary Garripoli • Maria Kress • Jack Kutcher • Connie Mellors • David Mingrino • Vince Palmieri • Joseph Bongiovanni
Featuring the vocal talents of
Jim Beaver • Stu Berg • Lee Meriwether • Connie Sawyer • Seemah Wilder