ciao, baby adapted by Paula Wing, based on poetry by Gianna Patriarca, directed by Sue Miner, with Wing, Tony Ellwand, Lucy Filippone and Charly Chiarelli. Presented by Matriarca Theatre with the Italian Women Project at Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs (26 Berkeley). To December 15, Monday-Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3:30 and 8:30 pm. $20-$25, Monday pwyc, stu/srs $2 discount. 416-368-3110. Rating: NN
at one point in the trifling showCiao, Baby, a poet-protagonist figure clearly standing in for the author compares herself to Picasso and Pasolini.Talk about delusions of grandeur.
Ciao, Baby is based on the poetry of Gianna Patriarca, who, if the show is any indication, is a middling writer of middlebrow musings on Italian-Canadian female life.
Adapted by Paula Wing, who also performs in the piece, the show should be simple enough. Make the poetry come alive, illustrate and create the worlds the poems describe.
Problem is, the poems don't describe much. There's little sense of time or place. One character mouths the words "College and Clinton" to evoke old Little Italy. Sorry, that's not poetry, that's geography.
Individual moments provide some satisfaction -- like the scene in which Wing and Lucy Filippone, both strong performers, play widows discussing sex, or the one where Wing rants about pasta. But Wing and director Sue Miner's attempts to shape the material are confusing.
The piece opens with a family's women joining the father in Canada, but before long the family is grown up, someone's having a child -- a friend? a sister? -- someone dies and we feel nothing because we know no one.
Wing and Miner fail to locate and dramatize the show's emotional centre, and the poet character -- who could have anchored everything -- isn't introduced until 20 long minutes have dragged by.