More steam!


By Manos Pantelidis
Directed by Tony Marinelli
Non-union production (closes Oct. 18)
Ryan Repertory Company, Inc.
Harry Warren Theatre
2445 Bath Ave., Brooklyn (718/996-4800)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Frappuccino is a new comedy playing all the way down the W train in Brooklyn. It is a combination of Queer as Folk and My Big Fat Greek Wedding without much of the humor, charm and wit of either. However, the overall plot structure is clever, there are some comical moments, and a few of the cast members perform exceptionally.

The plot of Frappuccino follows John Gilbert (Steven Pelton), a 35-year-old gay male who has been in a relationship with his boyfriend, Frank (Jeff Lupinacci) for seven years. Chaos ensues when his parents have a fight because his father is cheating on his mother with a girl half his age. Unfortunately, they are still unaware that John is gay. Since they are so homophobic and set on John getting married and continuing the family, John has been too scared to tell them, much to his roommate's upset. What follows is a comedy of errors in which many secrets become uncovered.

This show could be funny but unfortunately fell flat. The plot is well mapped-out. The realizations and epiphanies are placed in good spots. However, the dialogue just does not cut it. The show is funny but not funny enough. Perhaps some added sitcom humor and some more raunchiness can help this. Also, the epiphanies and realizations the characters have are in good places; they are just set up inadequately. There is really good material here for a funny play -- flaming homosexuals, miscommunications, and even a sex drive operation -- it is a shame that the show fails to live up to its potential.

Most of the cast went too over-the-top with the material. It would be okay if the material itself was more over-the-top and funnier, but it is not. Lin Cirelli was the standout performer as Christiana Gilbert, John's mother. She had the perfect balance between believability and caricature. She was also very funny. The rest of the cast was adequate, if a bit overdone.

The direction was a mixed bag. The staging was good. It made use of the tiny, intimate space, as well as utilizing the aisles well. The pacing, however, was too slow and dragged the already unfunny show, especially in the second act. The ending of the play is dynamite, but the bang was anticlimactic because the pacing had been so dull before it.

Thus, Frappuccino tasted like stale coffee. With a little more sugar and some cream, it could truly be delicious. There is definite potential here.

 Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 2
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Seth Bisen-Hersh