Tomatoes on a Windowsill
nytheatre.com review by Pamela Butler
August 15, 2004
Welcome to Italy in America. Rita Andriello gives us an evening, an hour and twenty minutes of an evening, with her family. Her Nonna who is most comfortable expressing herself in Italian and can find the sweets no matter where they’re hidden; her patriarchal father, arch and commanding, in a melodramatic way; her eccentric aunts, her mother; her sisters; even her stoner younger brother—all are brought to life by Andriello’s memory and her remarkable ability to transform herself into each one of them.
Rita Andriello is an energetic lady from an extended Italian family that carries on the traditions from whence come all the cliches and stereotypes. Endless family arguments, noisy meals, Catholicism, opera, pasta, wine, and of course, tomato sauce. The recipe has been handed down from generation to generation of great women in the kitchen. Rita stirs her own sauce as the evening progresses, until it is perfection as the lights go down.
“Girls are like tomatoes,” she quotes her grandmother, her Nonna. It is the father who puts them on the windowsill, and it is the father who says when they’re ripe and ready to go into the salad of life. It doesn’t always work out that the father wants to admit when the tomatoes are ripe, and there seems to be a lot of push and pull if the tomato thinks she ripe but the father does not. Rita had the classic tough time with her dad, but she survived and did it her own way.
She carries on the vocal tradition of the family. He father wanted to sing opera but became a doctor instead. He wants his daughter to sing opera but she became a wife and mother instead. Now her children are grown and she has found a new mate who shares her love of theatre and music. Andriello’s husband, Patrick Feren, produces and directs this one-woman show, treating us to her fine stage persona and her wonderful voice. Although the show rambles, the way real family life rambles, Andriello is mysteriously captivating and I found myself just enjoying her presence on stage. Tomatoes on a Windowsill is an entertaining evening of pasta, opera, salad and sauce.