Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl!
nytheatre.com review by Roger Nasser
August 18, 2011
In Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl!, writer-performer Maria Baratta gives us an insightful look at what it was like growing up with strict Italian Catholic parents. The play is not about typical I-TALIAN stereotypes—it is about very real people who helped shape Baratta into the person that she is today. The play spans from before she was born to the present. Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl! is a fun one-woman show. Baratta plays the many characters from her life with great ease. She is a very talented performer and you can tell that she has a great love for the people that she is sharing with us. In the show we get to meet her mother Lucy, father Tony, sister Nicolina, and an aunt and uncle among others.
Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl! has a lot of humor in it. I especially loved the way that her family reacted to several situations that they would not have had to deal with in the “Old World.” Another hilarious image that sticks with me from the show are the pictures of Baratta as a child in a monk outfit—the result of a promise that her mother made with Saint Anthony so that she could get pregnant. There is also some sadness in the show, which makes sense because it is about her life experiences. But from the sadness many great realizations come for both the performer and the audience.
Baratta moves from character to character really well and her characterization of each is really great. It is almost like she transforms into the person she is depicting. It also made you feel like you had met the people that she was portraying at that moment. She is a very gifted performer and what she shares with the audience is more than just a look into her life and experiences but more like a glimpse into her soul. At times we got to experience the craziness and zaniness of parts of her life just as she did.
Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl! is very well directed by Anthiony Patellis. He supplied a great outside eye. There is one thing that struck me though—there are times when Baratta was talking to another character on stage in profile and it would have worked better if we were able to see her face. It also seemed that a few moments could have been tighter. That being said, it didn’t really change the way the audience felt about the show—they all seemed to really love it. The minimal set works well, allowing Baratta to move from the different settings effortlessly.
Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl! is a really sweet and heartfelt homage to Baratta’s family. It gives a glimpse into what it was like growing up in a strict (but very loving) Italian, Catholic family. Baratta’s performance is moving at times and hilarious at others. I’m glad she shared her story with us and it was apparent that the rest of the audience felt the same way.