How Alfo Learned To Love Women
nytheatre.com review by Pamela Butler
August 17, 2010
How does a guy who is the youngest of seven children, six of whom are older sisters, learn to love just one woman and marry her? Alfo's problem is, he just can't commit. He has left behind a string of broken hearts over the years, and he can't seem to break the habit. He thinks it has something to do with all those sisters.
We are treated to an examination of his youth, with two younger actors—Bobby Lunden as the very young ten-year-old Alfo and Erez Rose as his teenage self. Both of them get the job done, and Rose is delightful as the exuberant and helpful teenage brother to six lovely Italian girls. Tim Douglas, the 41-year-old Alfo, narrates the scenes with appropriate frustration and self defense, as each circumstance suggests formative experiences that might have led him to his present dilemma.
In the final scene we get that Alfo is enlightened to the errors of his thinking and his feelings, and we can guess he'll go on to find true love and make a commitment. The route to this understanding is pretty straightforward and often amusing.
While Alfo's story is interesting, it is presented as a loose chronological biography, highlighting scenes from a young man's life in a sort of psychological pursuit of some truth. I'm not sure the action actually points to the final conclusion, but there may be some germs of the truth hidden here someplace. The mature Alfo discovers an important insight by the climax of the play, which we can assume is the key to the puzzle.
The production itself is fine, well-staged and directed, given the thin skit-like material the company is working with. This is an amusing subject, how it is to grow up with six older sisters, but presented here, the story is superficial and one note. It could benefit from more tension, more at stake, perhaps a love interest who finally wins Alfo. With the sisters, there's a great opportunity to make each a colorful character whereas now they are not particularly distinguishable.
Everyone on stage is having a good time and the music is delightful, a definite Fringe experience.