Playwright and performer Susan Ferrara takes us on a tour of Italy with Peasant, a one-woman show geared towards excavating her very own Italian heritage and dreams. While Ferrara's ability to shape shift into different characters is astounding, the lackluster production and incomplete sentiments are but only two factors that testify to Peasant's status as a work-in-progress.
Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
In its current state, Peasant by Susan Ferrara is a 50-minute monologue bursting with vitality, pride and humor. The intimate space at the Chashama gives the audience the impression of exclusivity, but the acoustics make little Susie, Ferrara's first character sketch, a shrill-sounding nuisance. In it, little Susie reveals her fascination with Dracula that is in and of itself, endearing. However, the correlation between that and the other elements of the piece can only be imagined, if at all.
Her depiction of a trio of sisters is light-hearted with nuances that are recognizable from cinematic portrayals of traditional Italian families. However, the antics and the wringing of the handkerchief, a versatile prop for all of Ferrara's nine characters, are all products of her own creativity.
World War I and Catholicism are important catalysts for character morphs. Themes of identity loss and regret are also explored with such poignancy as well as simplicity with lines such as "We didn't get a better life. We just got a different life."
It is obvious that Ferrara holds her family tree in high esteem, with the question "Where do I come from?" persistently posed and answered by her ancestors. Exploring this very dense topic could be more entertaining with the addition of more imaginative stage lighting and props. Also, as characters were introduced, the last one was easily forgotten. Ferrara needs to find a better way to assimilate all those integral to her origin.
As America's pot continues to melt, feelings about being a "fish out of water" will continue to be relevant and fresh. But for Ferrara, she is living proof that adaptation can transcend limitations. The original dream may not have come to fruition, but the dream lives on to create new and exciting chapters in her lineage. From farmer to hatmaker to actress, the possibilities are endless.
Through May 27th. Chashama: 217 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
Tickets: $15 917-776-9726
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.