Lost And Found
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
August 21, 2010
FringeNYC is always full of surprises, and John Pollono's new play, Lost and Found, definitely qualifies as one of them. What starts out as a blue collar ethnic comedy ends up being a profoundly moving rumination on loss, regret, and grief. Does such a thing sound unlikely considering the description I just gave? Yeah, I thought so too. But, Lost and Found succeeds on the strength of an impressive team effort by everyone involved.
The setting is the Broncato house, located minutes outside of Boston. Matriarch Eva, who is perennially grumpy, has been widowed almost a year and has two grown kids—police detective Tommy and aimless Marie—still living at home. Tommy is a former ladies' man whose personal life has fallen into disrepair since retreating to his childhood home. Marie has been dating the same guy for six years with nary an engagement ring in sight. Into this already volatile mix comes Vincent, a middle-aged attorney from California who shows up one day and announces that he's Eva's long lost son. Excuse me? After that, the revelations and complications pile up faster than you can say "skeletons in the closet."
Initially, Pollono takes his time laying all the groundwork: Marie's clueless boyfriend, Keith, has an unfortunate confession for her; Vincent, reluctant to reveal his homosexuality to his potential new family, doesn't want them to meet his flamboyant boyfriend, Alex; and, the Broncatos' next door neighbor, Betty (who's married to an overseas soldier), may know Tommy better than they both let on. But, once the exposition is out of the way, Lost and Found presents a cast of characters at the proverbial crossroads. Everyone's external facade is the manifestation of some deeper inner turmoil and malaise.
Pollono tells what could easily be a melodramatic story in a solid, convincing fashion. He knows his way around a story arc and a crowd-pleasing quip. Director Andrew Block helps modulate the transition between comedy and tragedy with grace and ease. In both Pollono and Block's capable hands, the play's constant mood swings feel more lifelike than random. Lost and Found's terrific cast—led by standouts Geraldine Librandi (Eva), Jon Krupp (Vincent), and Pollono himself (Tommy)—does distinguished work all-around. Librandi and Casey Predovic supply the high point of the evening in the play's final scene. To say more about that scene (or Predovic's character) would spoil Lost and Found's best surprise. Suffice it to say the story ends on a simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful note that will likely be edifying (not to mention cathartic) for many theatergoers.