Who We Are/ How We Love is a serious comedy about a middle-class Catholic family who live in a Brooklyn brownstone. The patriarch is Vincent, who wants to escape to Florida with the matriarch, Francine. What keeps them in Brooklyn, however, are their five difficult daughters, who Vincent describes as "five little Frankensteins." The daughters are Yolanda, an incorrigible drug user; Barbara, a wise-cracking divorcee; Martha, an alcoholic actress; Stacy, an opinionated vegetarian; and Theresa, an unwed mother-to-be.
The basic plot concerns whether the family will tear itself apart over the stresses and strains brought on by their close relationships, or whether they will hold together long enough to see Theresa have her baby.
Michael Sulsona's writing, on the whole, is quite good. All the characters are well-drawn, and there are many humorous lines. The only drawback to the play is that not much seems to be at stake. While the playwright is clearly not trying to make a grand statement about family life in the '90s, a stronger through line would have made an already pleasing work much more compelling.
The production of Who We Are/ How We Love had its pluses and minuses. Although the Inner Space Theatre is problematic even in the best of circumstances, the bulky set, and the need for most of the characters to be on stage at the same time, made this production even more so. However, director Eliza Beckwith kept the traffic moving smoothly throughout.
The cast, however, was rather uneven. Of the seven actors, Shauna Lewis gave the most sympathetic performance, as the pregnant Theresa. Sarah Weinberger also held her own as the opinionated Stacy. Pamela J. Nigro and Carol Rappaport had nice broad turns in Act Two, as Martha and Yolanda, respectively.
The set, constructed by John Taylor, and the lights, designed by Joseph Tudisco, were serviceable. It should be noted, however, that the program (always iffy with Off-Off Broadway shows), designed by Lee Gundersheimer, was quite pleasing to the eye. (Also featuring Kim Nielsen and Ruthanne Gereghty.)
Copyright 1996 John Attanas
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