The human comedy

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Written and performed by John Tedeschi
Directed by Julie Troost
Raw Space Theatre M
529 W. 42nd St. (279-4200/
Equity showcase (closes July 26)
Review by John Chatterton

In this piece, John Tedeschi brings to life a passle of characters drawn from his everyday experience in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Some of them he knows; many he invents from a passing glimpse. They are a varied lot, including Ernie, the Chinese mailman (the postman doesn’t ring twice, but his ears continue to ring from a childhood pyrotechnic accident, after which he decided he didn’t want to go into the family firework business in China); Byron, the gay depilatory worker who is also a dancer; a Hispanic candy salesman; a mentally disturbed homeless guy; a madam; an old black tap dancer reduced to working as a washroom attendant; a lesbian crossing guard; and a limo driver of a famous show-business personality ("Yes, Mr. Tedeschi!")

Tedeschi establishes his characters clearly in the writing, with witty one-liners and subtly worked-in exposition. (Elijah the bathroom attendant describes a fancy meal of fish in the restaurant: "They cooked it in a piece of paper – I didn’t know whether to eat it or read it!") His impersonations were equally distinct, though they tended toward caricature rather than detailed characterizations. He distinguished his characters better in body language than vocally, where his range was more limited. For example, his Big Mary was obviously ponderous (and overheated) as a result of her weight; his Hispanic candyman used an energetic and complicated body language to communicate. Vocally, the characters tended to sound more alike.

The set comprised a few cubes and a platform (for the homeless guy to sleep on). Lighting used the three areas of the stage effectively, especially the blue back lights. Unlike many one-man-show specialists, Tedeschi didn’t use changes of costume, a choice that helped the show run smoothly. The sound design included voiceovers of Tedeschi introducing the show, and musical numbers (abruptly cut off when the next number was ready) to provide context for numbers just completed.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 1
Sets: 1
Costumes: N/A
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 John Chatterton