Denton's review from NYTheatre.com!!
"Sister" by Mario Fratti depicts the strains of an Italian
family in which a teenage son, wise beyond his years, lives uneasily with
his 59 year-old mother and his thirty-something sister. The boy is blessed
with a professorial vocabulary and cursed with a judgmental mind. He resents
his sister's desperate relationships with men, accuses her of promiscuity
and responds self-righteously to his mother's queries about his own relations
with women. The play starts off like an indictment of male machismo and
double-standards with a Strindbergian touch. Then, in typical Fratti style,
the play turns on its heel. Shocking, mysterious secrets are revealed.
The boy's arrogance gives way to humility and greater understanding.
Fratti's gift is to expose the secret agendas that drive people to dishonesty
and betrayal. In the foreword to the published edition (Guernica), Nina
Da Vinci Nichols writes, "The curtain goes up on an action already
begun and falls before the audience has quite caught its breath--Fratti's
trademark is the final knockout punch. Its after-shock lingers until after
the spectator has left the theater. Expectations have been reversed, those
of the protagonist and of the audience as well." This play, originally
written in 1994, typifies the spare but powerful style of Fratti's drama-mysteries.
Director Pamela Billig will set the production in Milan in the early '60s,
when the boy's opinions would seem typical, in order to make the trap
complete. When Fratti is done, all expectations will be dashed and no
character will be as she or he originally seemed.
Pamela Billig is an old hand with Fratti's plays. She directed stage
and film versions of his "Toys" and "Our Family" twenty
years ago. Since then, she has been Artistic Director of the Threshold
Theatre Company, which she co-founded with Eugene Brogyányi. The
company is dedicated to presenting international drama hitherto never
or rarely available to American readers and audiences. Its credits include
the English-language premiere of Diderot's "Est-il bon? Est-il méchant?,"
a three-city tour of Hungary with Géza Páskándi's
"No Conductor," and four seasons of the OBIE Award winning Caught
in the Act Festival of modern international one-act plays at HERE, featuring
works translated from more than a dozen languages.
The actors have all acted in Billig's productions before. Eleanor Ruth
plays the Mother, Brian Voelcker plays the Son and Shân Willis plays
Mario Fratti is a playwright and drama critic who was born in Italy
(L'Aquilla) but has lived in New York since 1963. His plays characteristically
take on realistic subjects with a touch of Latin irony. His remarkable
body of work (over 80 plays) includes such noteworthy plays as "The
Cage," "The Victim," "Suicide," "Return,"
"Che Guevara," "Eleonora Duse, "Seducers" and
"Refrigerators." His previous La MaMa productions include "Refrigerators,"
"Madame Senator," "Passionate Women" and "Erotic
Adventures in Venice." Fratti's plays have been published and performed
in 19 languages in over 600 theaters. Broadway audiences know him as author
of the adaptation of Fellini's film "8½" that became
"Nine," a now-legendary Broadway musical that won the O'Neill
Selection Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award,
the Leone di San Marco Literary Award, the Heritage and Cultural Award,
eight Drama Desk Awards and seven Tony Awards. For more information see: