Monday, February 1, 2010

A Rare Treat at Florida Stage

Israel Horovitz Re-writes and Directs Southeastern Premiere of "Sins of the Mother"

It is rare enough to see a playwright the stature of Israel Horovitz live and in person.
It is rarer still to see his handiwork onstage, directed by the writer himself.
A Southeastern premiere, “Sins of the Mother” is a work in progress with six previous productions in other parts of the country.
The production running through March 7 at Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, is unique because the playwright rewrote scenes even as he directed them.
Horovitz, 70, was there to take a bow opening night. At the end of the evening the audience responded with a standing ovation in response to the fine ensemble work onstage.
“Sins of the Mother” is one of 14 plays set in the playwright’s adopted home of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Gloucester once had a thriving fishing industry. Now it is a crumbling relic, populated by equally crumbling characters.
Act one is set in the union hall of a shuttered fishing plant. One of the requirements of unemployment compensation is that jobless workers have to prove or at least swear they have been looking for work.
There is no work to be had in Gloucester, and only the faintest hope the situation will change- Japanese investors, perhaps.
So the men have a lot of time on their hands and nothing to do but talk, of past glories, past wrongs and festering resentments.
Bobby Maloney (Gordon McConnell) is a Vietnam veteran who nurses an ailing wife.
Frankie Verga (Brian Claudio Smith) is a gabby guy with a chip on his shoulder. Dubbah Morrison (David Nail) is a decent, dim bloke.
Into this company of old friends comes Douggie Shimmatarro (Francisco Solozano), a young man who fled Gloucester for college and a better life, but now feels drawn back.
Horowitz has a keen ear for regional dialogue, and all his characters have humorously heavy Mass. accents. Horovitz has amusing wordplay with the similarity of family names. In a place as long-settled as Gloucester, everyone seems to be related to everyone else.
Though Douggie is an outsider, he provokes some lively dialogue from the older characters.
In act two a new character is introduced: Frankie’s twin brother Phillie, also played by Brian Claudio Smith. Phillie is a much more volatile character than Frankie. The brothers have never gotten along, and the fact Phillie escaped the poverty of Gloucester and enjoyed success as a Toyota dealer does not help the sibling rivalry.
Brian Claudio Smith is the star player in this ensemble in his Florida Stage debut, playing two separate and distinct characters and provoking much of the action.
Gordon McConnell is the body and soul of the piece, and long-suffering husband of the mother we never get to see, but whose presence reverberates through all the men.
By equal measure funny and melancholy, “Sins of the Mother” is an extraordinary little play on an extraordinarily atmospheric set by Richard Crowell from an exceptionally good little theater company.
Tickets are $45-$48. Call 800-514-3837 or visit

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