Tarantella, Clapham Omnibus - Review

Written and directed by Elizabeth Bowe, Tarantella tells the story of three generations of Sicilians living under the same roof in New York at the end of the Second World War. Tradition continues to play a big part in family life and the community at large, but the post-War years mark a time of change and the 'Wiseguys' from the 'Old Country' are tightening their grip on 'Little Italy'.

While the men in the family are directly or indirectly involved with this state of affairs, it is the daughters who are the most 'progressive' and think about dating men outside the community. In Rosa's (Louise Moberg) case, someone from Naples, while Angelica (Maya Lindh) has her eye on someone with the 'Italian' name of 'Eddie'...

Angelica's favourite pastime is dancing, which leads to the various scenes where dancing appears and the Tarantella itself, and the juxtapositioning of original folk music with contemporary big band hits by Glen Miller.

While the music in play captures the spirit of the age, for my money the heart of the play lies with Nonno (Fabrizio Matteini) the grandfather and his relationship with women in the household. His recollections of his deceased wife allows Angelica and his especially his daughter Marta (Valia Phyllis) to connect to their maternal lineage – something that they and many women are deprived of.

Bowe's Tenth Muse Productions was formed with a view to staging plays where music is an integral part of the story-telling process. Tarantella certainly fulfills this brief admirably. But where it works particularly well is showing the grittier details of everyday life, a sensitive counterbalance to the 'escapism' and light of music and dance elsewhere in the show.

© Michael Davis 2016

Tarantella ran at Clapham Omnibus from 31st August to 11th September 2016.


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