nytheatre.com review by Natasha Yanacannedo
July 15, 2007
Troy Diana stars in Storia, a one-man show that he wrote that tells the stories of four generations of a family. The first character is a sweet, young Italian woman who comes to the United States from Italy. Diana plays her with a beautiful innocence and reminds us of the excitement of being young and in love. He also shows us the pain of lost innocence. This is my favorite of his characters.
The second character is an exuberant young Italian man who marries the daughter of the first character. He provides a lovely contrast to the first character and shows us the struggles of being a young immigrant and dealing with discrimination. He also shows us the thrill of being in love.
The third character is an elderly woman who is the daughter of the Italian man. She exemplifies the loss of language through the generations but shows us the one cultural staple that always seems to remain—the food. She provides some great comedy as she educates us as to the ignorance of North American restaurants and how the Olive Garden feeds us "peasant food" as if it is gourmet. This character makes us sad as she reveals that her alcoholic husband beats her but she stays with him because she "loves him" and in defiance of her father, who never approved of her husband. She opens up a beauty shop in her home in order to survive financially. Her son marries the daughter of a Peruvian woman who works for her.
The Peruvian-Italian-American fourth character is a man who tells us about his experiences in rural China as a gay man. We also witness the beautiful relationship he has with his mother, even though she has difficulty accepting his sexuality.
Diana easily transitions from one character to the next. His specific, physical choices definitely contribute to the great success of his show. He really embraces the heart and soul of each character that he portrays. He brings great humanity and a vital sense of humor to every part. I would have liked Diana to have a bit more precision with the accents and I would have liked a different vocal placement for his third character. Also, I found myself struggling to connect each character to the previous one; I would have liked that laid out a little clearer in the text. It would have been nice to have each character's name in the program.
David Withrow, the costume designer, is a genius with his shower cap/curler wig creation, and the characters are costumed in a way that serves Storia well.
Director Jennifer Ortega does a superb job. I only wish she had pushed for a set piece that somewhat resembled a stove; it took me out of the world of the play when Diana "cooked" on a folding table.
Diana is a captivating performer and a joy on stage. He truly comprehends the art of the one-man show. Go see the fabulous show that is Storia.