Review: Napoli, Brooklyn, at Park Theatre
20 June, 2019 — By Sipora Levy
Gloria Onitiri in Napoli, Brooklyn. Photo: Marc Brenner
THREE sisters dream of escaping their stultifying environment. This is not Chekhov’s classic but the work of American playwright Meghan Kennedy who wanted, in part, to tell her mother’s story, growing up in Brooklyn, as the daughter of Italian immigrants.
Here we have the Muscolinos, proud and passionate parents, who have raised three feisty daughters, bonded by a fierce love for one another while harbouring secret longings that could tear the family apart.
It is 1960 and society is on the cusp of change. Francesca (Hannah Bristow) is the most radical daughter, coming out at 16 as a lesbian, and wanting to escape to France with her girlfriend Connie (Laurie Ogden).
Vita (Georgia May Foote) has been sent to a convent for intervening when her violent father Nic (Robert Cavanah) turned on Francesca.
Tina (Mona Goodwin) has sacrificed an education in order to support the family. Holding them all together is their mother, Luda, a luminous and nuanced performance by
Madeleine Worrall, trying to keep the peace while serving spaghetti and flirting with their butcher Albert (Stephen Hogan), who is also Connie’s father.
Just before the interval a huge national tragedy occurs (historically true), which affects all the characters, requiring them to reassess their priorities. At a Christmas gathering, which includes Tina’s colleague Celia (Gloria Onitiri), there is a huge showdown, and rather improbably all the loose ends are tied up very neatly.
While not perfect, it is exciting to see a female-driven play, brimming with vibrant and interesting characters.
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