Before I say anything about Warehouse Theatre's latest production, I think you need to know, I've been bribed. Really. How can you not say something nice about the man who gives you a rose and says you're beautiful? Of course, Aldo's Italian, and true to stereotype, he probably tells this to a lot of women. At least one a night during the run of John Patrick Shanley's "Italian-American Reconciliation." So chances are pretty good that Aldo just might bribe you. Or your date. And believe you me, you will say nice things about him and this whole story he's telling--it's beautiful.
It's about his best friend, Huey, a big nervous wreck who's been falling apart ever since his divorce from Janice. It's about how Huey needs to reconcile this thing with Janice, needs to confront it and get past it before he can be man enough to love Teresa (a strong showing by Elizabeth Finley). It's a good story. Rick Connor makes such a quirky and moving Huey that you'll laugh and cry and hope right along with him.
Trouble is, Janice, she's not so nice. Stars make her "think of death." She shoots dogs. And men. And Anne Tromsness imbues her with such raging emotional complexity that you never know if she's going to kiss you, or knife you. Huey, he's a bit gun shy. So he does what any red-blooded Italian would do: he sends his best friend Aldo to smooth things over.
It's Little Italy. There's no telling what might happen, or who will run off with (or without) whom. But in all the upheavals, one woman stays the same: Aunt May (charming performance by Annette Garver), who dishes out minestrone and advice by the bowlful. She may not be sure "whether all the stuff I remember is wisdom, or just lint," but my money's on wisdom. Her insights on life and love and trouble are worth more than any seminar.
And since I've talked about everybody else, I suppose it's only fair, in closing, to say a word about Aldo, the sweet-talking Italian with a thing for (and against) women. Bribery aside, Andy Croston delivers his best performance to date. He's come home with this fast talking, emotional Italian, and you will too. His Aldo is an able guide through the turbulent romances of Little Italy, where everyone changes, everyone grows, and everyone comes to an honest place, including the audience.
John Patrick Shanley's "Italian-American Reconciliation," directed by Jayce T. Tromsness. With Andy Croston (Aldo), Rick Connor (Huey), Elizabeth Finley (Teresa), Annette Garver (May), Anne K. Tromsness (Janice).
Scene Design, Shannon Roberts; Lighting Design, Ursula Finley; Costume Design, Jayce T. Tromsness; Sound Design, Kevin Frasier.
Presented by The Warehouse Theatre, 37 Augusta St., Greenville (864) 235-6948. Through May 2. Tickets $25. Students $15.