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BWW Review: NAPOLI, BROOKLYN, Park Theatre

BWW Review: NAPOLI, BROOKLYN, Park Theatre

BWW Review: NAPOLI, BROOKLYN, Park Theatre It's the 1960s and the Muscolinos are raising three daughters in Brooklyn. As Italian immigrants, they are striving to maintain their own identity while rebelling against an outdated patriarchal structure in their own individual ways.

The Park Theatre sees the European debut of Napoli, Brooklyn, where fierce and passionate love appears to take many forms, but ultimately falls flat in this distasteful portrayal of relocated Italians. The offensively annoying accents are only the start of what becomes a caricatured picture of family hatred.

Lisa Blair directs a short-sighted production of Meghan Kennedy's play, which tries to convey cathartic reflections on cultural background and interiority, but backfires. The script is laden with overused, quintessentially Italian and pretentiously melancholic clichés - Luda's typically proud remarks about her cooking skills, the gregarious nature of meals - that set the tone for the brutal story of a male bully that goes nowhere.

Below the crass stereotypes perpetuated by the direction, there isn't enough substance to save the show. Robert Cavanah spearheads the family as the toxic and violent patriarch Nic; he is ruthless in his short-tempered exchanges with his daughters, unloading built-up insecurities onto them in terrifying fashion that's mainly conveyed through a lot of table banging and aimless shouting.

As his wife, Madeleine Worrall is by far the most stereotypical of the bunch. Her obnoxiously fake accent and overdone mannerisms are the tip of the iceberg in her depiction of a woman who might or might not be in love with the family butcher.

The daughters fluctuate between conforming to their father's wishes at the expense of their own dreams (Mona Goodwin's Tina) and complete rebellion (Hannah Bristow as Francesca), with Vita (Georgia May Foote) as a sort of odd pivot for her sisters from her punitive reclusion in a nunnery.

It's a show that's heavy on the stomach, and neither the stench of onions that permeates the second act nor the unappealing food they eat throughout is the only reason...

Napoli, Brooklyn runs at Park Theatre until 13 July.

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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