…And Counting! (Letter Three) is the continuation of writer/performer Tony Nardi’s musings on cultural stereotypes and the state of Canadian art. It follows the narrator’s quixotic efforts to fund a staging of the first two letters.
As he informs us, he gets close, but there’s never a cigar.
Reading the letter from his MacBook, Nardi rushes headlong through more than two hours of picaresque tales, extravagantly drawn characters and cleverly phrased thoughts on a national culture (especially in theatre) that he believes is rarely allowed to blossom.
Meeting with arts councils and various members of the Italian-Canadian community, he regularly gets the runaround, or his ideas are applauded while financial support is withheld.
Adopting a persona, Nardi fills his show with an actor’s craft and a wide range of references, from Jane Jacobs and Calabrian proverbs to commedia dell’arte and Shakespeare. Passionate, often angry, he replays meetings and phone calls with sometimes recognizable figures in the theatre and Italian communities, people he’s intentionally caricatured and expanded to make bigger than reality.
The result is often funny, though you might not always agree with his assessment of character or situation. In fact, that’s just what Nardi wants; he wants his letters to provoke open dialogue, not to be defamatory rants. That’s why he includes a discussion after each performance.
Be sure to stay for that post-show give-and-take. You’ll discover a quieter side of Nardi and understand some of the events and the reasoning that lie behind the letter’s energetic, breathless explosion.
…And Counting! won’t be to everyone’s theatrical taste. But you can’t deny Nardi’s thoughtfulness and skill in its creation and presentation.