White Fence Productions
By JOE LAUINGER
Roy Arias Studios Off-Off Broadway Theatre, 300 W. 43rd Street at 8th Avenue, 5th Floor, NYC
February 2 – 11, 2012
Directed by SUE GLAUSEN
Lighting Designer LAURA WILLIAMS
Stage Manager JESSICA PECHARSKY MORALES
Assistant Stage Manager SEBRENA MASON
Sound Design T.J. NEWTON
Set & Props PAUL MONTAGNA
Publicity SCOTTI RHODES
Bernie DiCamillo – Dono Cunningham
Lucille/Peggy/Sister/Marlo/Virgin Mary/GPS – Annie Paul
Vic DiCamillo – Paul Montagna
Father Thomas DiCamillo – John Blaylock
Pasquale (Patsy) DiCamillo – Jerry Ferris
HOLY CHILD is a dark comedy about the reunion of the four DiCamillo brothers. The first act takes place in the private room of an Italian restaurant, where the brothers are gathering on the eve of one of them being sent to an institution of sorts called Holy Child.
The youngest brother, Bernie, arrives first and is quickly revealed to be the sibling most removed from the family, though as each brother makes his entrance, a new layer of relationship dynamic is added. The reasons for the tension are never made explicit, but the individual personality conflicts reveal themselves through the dialogue. Each brother more or less represents a type. There is Bernie, the successful lawyer who has essentially abandoned his birth family, Vic, the loudmouth older brother, Father Thomas, the alcoholic priest set to be shipped off to Holy Child, and Patsy, the married man dating a teenage student.
The reunion quickly turns heated, and tragic, and the aftermath is played out in Act II. The arc of the second act is not quite as smooth as Act I, playing out in six scenes of varying impact. Annie Paul, who plays all of the female roles, lightens it up as a cheeky GPS voice, and as Sister Annunziata, a ruler-bearing nun who takes none of the brothers’ nonsense. Another scene, in which she portrays a yoga-posturing Virgin Mary does little to enhance the plot, but this was a rare misstep in the script.
I did expect there to be a revelation of some sort about Bernie, and why he has so completely cut himself off from his family, and perhaps something to explain Father Thomas’ downfall or Patsy’s move from infidelity to pedophilia, but disclosure never comes. So, I was left to enjoy HOLY CHILD for what is does offer, which is some clever banter that does invoke some laughs.
The production area is limited, even intimate, at the theater at Roy Arias Studios, but the design and direction of HOLY CHILD give the impression of a more open space because there are no set walls constricting the action. Period music and quick transitions keep the pace moving.
Joe Lauinger’s HOLY CHILD succeeds at presenting a complex family dynamic through a darkly comic filter. The source of the conflicts and some of the characters’ darker traits is never clearly revealed, but one never gets the sense that this is a play aimed to psychoanalyze its players. The goal would seem to be to laugh in spite of the foibles and the situation, instead of thinking too much about how these four guys got to where they are in the first place.
- Kessa De Santis -