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Home Fire

The story deals with the family's older son, Italian stallion Rocco (John Gallucci), who is caught committing one of his many infidelities by his wife Rita (Barbara Goodson) and kids (Molly Jackson, Robert Della Cerra).

With:
Rocco ... John Gallucci Teresa ... Mary VanArsdel Andrea ... Molly Jackson Rita ... Barbara Goodson Bobby ... Robert Della Cerra Danny ... James DiStefano Laura ... Mary VanArsdel Mary ... Vera Lockwood Sal ... Gary Michaels Pauline ... Ivy Bethune Joe ... Mike Perrotta Marion Gallo's "Home Fire," in its world preem at Theater West, centers around an Italian family get-together. Though it's touted in publicity as "an insane Christmas comedy," the humor seemed elusive; the dark premise shows promise, but in the end, the only thing insane about the show is believing that people would find it entertaining.

The story deals with the family’s older son, Italian stallion Rocco (John Gallucci), who is caught committing one of his many infidelities by his wife Rita (Barbara Goodson) and kids (Molly Jackson, Robert Della Cerra).

Since it is Christmas Eve, he pulls himself together and takes the family over to Mama Mary’s (Vera Lockwood) for a clan gathering.

As the festivities progress, the group of Mama, Dad (Gary Michaels) and geriatric Uncle Joe and Aunt Pauline (Mike Perrotta and Ivy Bethune) are joined by younger son and parental favorite, the ex-alcoholic Danny (James DiStefano) and his “outsider” wife Laura (Mary VanArsdel).

Soon all hell breaks loose, with old wounds being ripped open between the brothers.

Playwright/director Gallo’s pacing, both on the page and on the stage, leave much to be desired. The script’s dramatic arcs are sporadic and lack follow-through.

On a positive note, Goodson shows the flash of Italian passion in a fiery performance as the wronged wife. DiStefano and VanArsdel evoke genuine empathy as they try to get through the affair, with DiStefano’s adroit, underplayed timing masterfully bringing the play’s only comedy to the fore.

The cast performs solidly, but Lockwood’s and Bethune’s characters come off as caricatures.

Bradley Kaye’s set and Lawrence Oberman’s lights sufficiently fill the bill. But in the end, the evening consists of little more than blame being shouted redundantly at each other until the audience wonders if even denial will hold this lot together.

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Home Fire

(Theatre West, Los Angeles; 180 seats; $ 15 top)

Production: Theatre West and Good Dog Prods. present a dramatic comedy in two acts by Marion Gallo; director, Gallo.

Creative: Lights, Lawrence Oberman; set, Bradley Kaye; costumes, Bill Whitten, Pam Baczuk; sound, Clive Mizumoto, Greg Pusateri. Opened Dec. 2, 1994; reviewed Dec. 9; runs through Jan. 15.

Cast: Rocco ... John Gallucci Teresa ... Mary VanArsdel Andrea ... Molly Jackson Rita ... Barbara Goodson Bobby ... Robert Della Cerra Danny ... James DiStefano Laura ... Mary VanArsdel Mary ... Vera Lockwood Sal ... Gary Michaels Pauline ... Ivy Bethune Joe ... Mike Perrotta Marion Gallo's "Home Fire," in its world preem at Theater West, centers around an Italian family get-together. Though it's touted in publicity as "an insane Christmas comedy," the humor seemed elusive; the dark premise shows promise, but in the end, the only thing insane about the show is believing that people would find it entertaining.

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