John Patrick Shanley wrote "Italian American Reconciliation” in 1986 when he was a promising university student. You can feel his emerging talent. The dialog could be smoother, but the characters radiate energy. The story revolves around a divorced beauty named Janice, whose stormy temper is legendary. Listen to this buildup, delivered by Italian American actor David Pierini, to her face.
Aldo: “Your eyes look like vampire vulture monster fiend eyes.”
Janice: “They do?”
Aldo: “You always smile for the most horrible reason. Sometimes when you smile, I expect to see fangs drop down over your lower lip."
Naturally, she soon explodes.
Janice: “You dunce, you oaf! You slimey… Dammit, look at that, I burned my finger, you comical boob!”
This is a tall tale, in which two guys prove their manhood by risking encounters with this volcano of a woman -- except that all the heroic elements have been rescored for comic effect. It’s not a great play, but it’s fun. The acting is strong, especially newcomer Lee Fitzpatrick as the seething ice queen. This kind of show is the B Street’s bread and butter -- a compact two-hour comedy with five actors, not too ambitious, but skillfully executed – a notch or two smarter than what you’ll see at the movies. And director Jerry Montoya, who’s very familiar with the B Street’s small stage, makes the show feel bigger than it really is.
"Italian American Reconciliation" continues at the B Street Theatre through September 20th.