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Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
By Amanda Cooper
Set in 1974, this play is based on real-life sniper Anthony Barbaro. The seventeen year-old Barbaro was a Regents scholar in Olean, New York when he took two guns to a third floor window in his high school, and made history as the first of many (37 as of the year 2000) documented school shootings in the United States.
At a time when our government is so intent on sniffing out foreign terrorists, this play reminds us that often terrorism can begin at home. The play follows Anthony through events from his past that have affected the incarcerated individual he has become. There is no defining moment showing what changed this big-hearted boy into the murderer he is fated to be, but it's clear that he did not fit the life he was born into -- a life without a home or a place for his heart.
After Anthony's moving introductory monologue, we are swept back in time to watch him as an eleven year-old. His parents are without education, patience or any common interest with their son, though they are in love and happy. Vincent Sagona and Kathy McCafferty present Louise and John Vaccaro with depth and appropriately flawed honesty. In the next moment, the worst possible news about Anthony's brother in Vietnam changes many things, including Anthony's innocence and his parent's happiness.
We continue to be offered interactions between Anthony and influential people from his past. There is his first love, the unpredictable and adorable Susan James (Nicole Raphael); the stoic, hard-working Father Keenan (Tony Neil) for whom Anthony is often an altar boy; and Tom Davis, the local football hero who is also an altar boy, and who surprisingly uses Anthony as his confidante. These scenes are relationship studies, careful not to blame our anti-hero's future on any one person, but showing us painful and possibly important milestones in Anthony's life.
Catholicism clearly played a large part in Anthony's life, first as a framework to live by, and then as a jumping off point for questioning authority. But as Anthony becomes a stronger individual intellectually and interrogates his priest, two of the play's weaknesses become evident: the religious undertones don't seem in sync with or relevant to the rest of the play; unfortunately, the talented and piercingly innocent John O'Brien as Anthony can't seem to find his footing within his new anti-church realizations.
The pacing, under Adam Hill's direction is at times plodding and the staging not always smooth. Still, Sniper provides much food for thought, with its non-stereotypical perspective on one of the country's first school snipers.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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