With all due respect to the Diety – food is love. The connection between the dining room and the bedroom has been explored time and time again. But somehow the aptly-titled new play “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” now being served up at George Street Playhouse manages to make it all seem as fresh as homemade pasta.
The one-woman play is based on a memoir of the same name by Giulia Melucci, adapted for the stage by Jacques LeMarre. Giulia (played by the irresistible Antoinette LaVecchia) not only gives us the lowdown on her failed relationships, but also actually cooks a three course Italian dinner in front of us while she does it! Along the way she serves up the meal to a fortunate few theatre-goers seated at onstage tables.
The recipe for this theatrical banquet is one part “Shirley Valentine” with a generous dollop of “Moonstruck” thrown in for local flavor. The entertaining result is as if Rachael Ray were on Dr. Phil – while cooking. There's no 'fourth wall' in Giulia's kitchen and LaVecchia remarkably maintains the delicate balance between stand-up comic and dramatic actress with ease, responding to her live audience without ever going too far off recipe (or script).
On opening night she humorously negotiated the line “Most of my friends are Irish and those people cannot dance” in front of an onstage table of visiting Irish dignitaries. Her timing is impeccable as she clinks her wine glass with a spoon when 'wedding bells' go off in her head listing the appealing qualities of her suitors. LaVecchia's Guilia is so good natured that it seems no amount of romantic rejection can spoil her mood – let alone her sauce. Even the words “I don't love you” fail to make her simmer for very long. She's such a resilient spirit that one wonders why she's remained single.
John Coyne's attractive set is more TV cooking show than Brooklyn 'cucina', but it helps keep the evening as current and recognizable as anything we might see on the Food Network. What the play itself might lack in dramatic spice is more than made up for by Ms. LaVecchia's 'abbondanza' of talent. Thanks to her, equal parts warmth and wit subtly flavor the evening and manage to elevate this culinary confessional from light repast to theatrical feast. Buon appetito!
Reviewed by Michael T. Mooney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Adapted by Jacques Lemarre from the memoir by Giulia Melucci-Directed by Rob Ruggiero-Starring Antoinette LaVecchia-March 11 – April 6, 2014
The Arthur Laurents Stage-George Street Playhouse • 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ
Box Office: 732-246-7717 • www.GSPonline.org