Friday, July 26, 2002
‘Brooklyn’ Serves a Slice of Italian With Vitality

“There’s two kinds of people in the world: Italians, and people who wish they were.” This observation typifies “West of Brooklyn,” a 68 Cent Crew production at the Space Theatre in Hollywood.

Writer-producer Ronnie Marmo–who also plays emotionally isolated protagonist Sebastiano “Sebi” Pascuzzi–sets the action in Los Angeles, where transplanted Brooklynites scramble for a piece of the Hollywood pie, usually at the pizzeria of paternal surrogate Papo (the convincing Robert Costanzo).

Others in Sebi’s crew include his younger brother Jimmy (the deft Jerry Ferrara), tough girl Donna (the vivid Angela Pupello), and aspiring crooner Frankie (director-designer Danny Cistone).

Into this expletive-laced atmosphere comes Madison (the delicious Dany Daurey), a wealthy wounded bird with whom Sebi is instantly smitten. A comedy of bad manners develops, until tragic events imperil the romance of the attracted opposites.

Cistone’s staging impressively negotiates the tiny venue, his inventive designs moving from the Hollywood Hills to the hills of Sellinunte with brio. The cast is appealing, with Marmo and Daurey generating palpable sparks, and their compatriots all authentically amusing.

Judging by audience reaction, such vitality counters the discrepancies of Marmo’s script, whose form and content expose its screenplay origins. Act 1 counts 20 scenes, explicating information more suited to subtext, and the tragedy’s arrival at intermission is jarringly melodramatic. But given the property’s crowd-pleasing properties, Marmo might just get a development deal, so he’s already ahead of the Tinseltown shell game.

David C. Nichols
Los Angeles Times