Review: ‘Caribbean Romance’

In a sleazy hotel room in Key West, Fla., the passionately idealistic Taffy is waiting for a boat captain to take her to Cuba so she can save the crumbling regime of the man who represents her romantic ideal: Castro.

In a sleazy hotel room in Key West, Fla., the passionately idealistic Taffy is waiting for a boat captain to take her to Cuba so she can save the crumbling regime of the man who represents her romantic ideal: Castro.

Instead, in strolls Bud, who mistakes Taffy for a prostitute. From this unlikely introduction, the pair embark on a sensual but verbose journey of discovery.

Despite such utterings as “Romantics are more delicate than a Ming vase and just as fragile,” Taffy and Bud literally bombard each each other’s senses. They get little assistance from the static, in-your-face staging of director John York.

What works is the sexual tension between Kilpatrick and D’Aquino. Kilpatrick offers an intriguing balance of thought and action as the cerebral but lusty Taffy, who becomes murderous when her idealistic dreams are shattered.

She is set off well by D’Aquino’s sexually electric Bud, who allows himself to be drawn into Taffy’s mind play while never losing sight of his carnal objective.

Pilato projects more caricature than personality as Castro. He is not helped by the unwieldy diatribes foisted on him by the playwright, and his credibility is further reduced by his ludicrous attempt to dance the merengue (Castro’s favorite dance) with Taffy.

Steve Carlisle gives a tour de force performance as Bud’s father; as he pops in and out of Bud’s painful reminiscences, Carlisle is a chilling presence as an ingratiating but grotesquely cruel small-time pitchman.

The lighting and sound designs of Dawn R. Ferry and Thomas Rincker, respectively, offer properly seedy atmosphere. But Lori Noyes’ bare-bones set design appears to inhibit the actors more than serve them.

Caribbean Romance

(Tamarind Theatre, Hollywood; 75 seats; $ 12 top)

Production

Jody Kiel, Tom Kendall and the Tamarind Theatre, in association with the Florida Theatre Connection, present a play in two acts by Bill Sterritt; director, John York; producers, Kiel, Kendall; associate producer, Rosie Taravella.

Creative

Sets, Lori Noyes; lighting, Dawn R. Ferry; costumes, Lea Woods; sound design, Thomas Rincker. Opened Jan. 31, 1994; reviewed Feb. 14; runs through Feb. 23.

Cast

Taffy MacNeil ... Joy Kilpatrick Fidel Castro ... Josef Pilato Bud ... John D'Aquino Captain ... Steve Carlisle Bill Sterritt's "Caribbean Romance" drowns in a stormy sea of words despite the admirable efforts of its talented lead actors, Joy Kilpatrick and John D'Aquino. Within the jumble of convoluted dialogue and arch analogies, Sterritt bemoans the absence of romanticism in society. Unfortunately, the interplay between Taffy (Kilpatrick) and Bud (D'Aquino), interrupted by the self-conscious political rantings of the fantasy figure of Fidel Castro (Josef Pilato), ultimately defeats his purpose.
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