Review: A Flower Of The Lips (King Street Theatre)

flowerVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Oct 6 – 24, 2015
Playwright: Valentino Musico
Director: Ira Hal Seidenstein
Cast: Michelle De Rosa, Marcella Franco, Jamila Hall, Yiss Mill, Kiki Skountzos

Theatre review
Every life has a story to tell. No matter our choices and experiences, narratives can be woven and lessons are to be learned from any being that has walked the earth, but it is up to the storyteller to translate an existence into something meaningful for the listener. Valentino Musico’s A Flower Of The Lips investigates the short life of his great-grandfather, Bruno Aloi of Calabria, Italy a century ago. Aloi’s extraordinary legend has persisted in his village of Pietracupa, and it is understandable that Musico is fascinated by the ancestor and is thus motivated to create a play that immortalises those memories. The work is sincere and earthy, but its pidgin English may be problematic for some. The temporal and social context of the plot may also prove obscure, and reaching an understanding of unfolding events is challenging.

Direction by Ira Hal Seidenstein is stylistically minimal yet energetic and joyful. Early portions of the show would benefit from greater elucidations in order that its distant time, space and characters can communicate more intimately. Performances are committed but the characters are not sufficiently accessible. There is a gulf between them and us that needs to be bridged, so that what we see on stage can find a universality and emotional resonance.

The tales surrounding Bruno Aloi are clearly near and dear to the writer, but those passions are difficult to connect with. Audiences are selfish and need to be shown a way to relate personally to what is being shared. Valentino Musico’s play is an expression of his love of family and of his familial history, which we can appreciate, but from afar.