BY ELLEN WERNECKE
What’s it really like being a mobster? Turns out it’s a whole lot of waiting, according to Gregg Greenberg’s “Clemenza and Tessio Are Dead,” a self-aware show returning to New York for the Fringe after having its world premiere last fall at the Broadway Comedy Club. Constantly invoking “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” the play (which Greenberg directed as well as wrote) follows the events of “The Godfather” through the perspective of two low-level mobsters in the Corleone organization, constantly forced to judge their shifting positions as the next generation takes over the family business.
Nervous Tessio (Dennis Wit) prefers to fall in line with the Don, while Clemenza (Frank Senger), believing they will be cut out of the succession, concocts a darker scheme. The tone ricochets between “Office Space”-style tedium (including an incompetent game of Go Fish and a deliciously incorrect retelling of “Hamlet”) and the darker schemes of the Coppola original, but Senger and Wit keep the banter rolling, and Greenberg manages to bring them back into the fold for a fascinating finale with the help of Troy Dane, who ably portrays every other character in the Corleone fold.
“Clemenza and Tessio are Dead” runs through August 29 at the New York International Fringe Festival. For tickets and more information, please visit FringeNYC.org.
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.