By Sandi Durell
Dan McCormick has written a far reaching tale involving a 1710 Stradavarius violin to illuminate relationships between the old world tailor, Gio, and two unfortunate brothers, Bobby and Terry, who spend more time in his shop than anywhere else; unless they’re out robbing or doing something illicit to survive their miserable lives.
The mild mannered Gio, expertly played by Robert LuPone, has serviced the community for many years in his capacity as a tailor in his rundown, unkempt shop (scenic design by Harry Feiner) where Italian opera records are often playing. Gio has no family but he does have lots of failings associated with aging: he can’t see well or hear well – which come into play often and are particularly amusing when they do.
The hot-headed Bobby (perfectly cast rough and tumble Peter Bradbury) survives as a parasite upon society by stealing. In the opening scene he is trying to tell Gio about this boot he found on the street . . . with a foot inside! His language of expletives is on-going. He has no job but thought he’d fair better when his mentally slow and very sweet brother Terry (a marvelous Kevin Isola) had a short-lived job as a taxi driver that lasted only three days. Terry is a light-hearted personality and Bobby takes care of him. They suffer dramatically from the loss of their parents who were murdered by the mob, constantly talking about them being in heaven.
Although the theme is heavy, the bickering produces a lot of earthy humor and laughs as when Terry returns to the shop to reveal he no longer has the job but left the taxi somewhere having first brought a violin to Gio’s shop earlier. Terry, always told by his mother how special he was, thinks he might want to learn to play the instrument and make money doing it, or maybe he could collect bottles and cans because some homeless guy he met doing that told him a story how it’s just a ruse – because the guy really has a big home in the Hamptons and drives a Rolls Royce. That’s a lot of bottles and cans and if you believe that, there’s a bridge we can talk about!
When Terry’s dispatcher calls inquiring the whereabouts of the cab, and asking Terry about a lost violin, Bobby’s mind begins to whirl. He grabs the reins to return the cab and finds out someone is looking for the violin which happens to be worth a lot of money….$4Mil. With the owner’s information in hand, he devises a scheme to return it for a reward . . . starting the negotiations at 20% of the value but knowing he’d accept 10%, making them all rich. Gio and Terry agree to let Bobby take charge and make the phone call. And, oh, by the way, since they don’t want to use the shop phone, there just happens to be a cell phone in the ladies pocketbook Terry had stolen earlier.
But there’s a lot more to the story . . . Gio’s connection to the boys and why he treats them like his own sons. . . and about a relationship that emerged years ago between himself and the boys’ mother, their father a lowlife mobster. To tell more of this tale would be to give away too much information. Suffice it to say, it’s complicated and you’ll be somewhat surprised.
The story revolves around caring, a debt owed and paid and the cost of it all. I must admit it’s a really tall tale of circumstances thrown together and hard to believe but it’s a winning cast and makes its point. And you have to admire Dan McCormick’s reaching imagination.
The play is directed by Joseph Discher for the Director’s Company and runs thru October 14. Run time: Two hours with intermission. www.59e59Theaters.org
Photos: Carol Rosegg