Danny Aiello is a fine actor. The Shoemaker is a terrible play. Written by Susan Charlotte, The Shoemaker is an unconvincing and confounding drama that has been stretched like salt water taffy to its limits.
It started out as a “sold out” one act play starring Mr. Aiello last year, has been made into a film “A Broken Sole” and in its latest manifestation, at the suggestion of its star Mr. Aiello, has had a second act added. Simon Says, “Don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.”
I reference “Simon Says” as that old game is referenced by Ms. Charlotte via one of the three on stage characters. There is another off stage voice that is part of the illogical proceedings at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row.
The Shoemaker takes place in Hell’s Kitchen on September 11, 2001. First off, the theatre is too large for such an intimate play. I have never seen such a shoemaker’s emporium as designed by Ray Klausen of this magnitude ever. The Italian Jewish owner has been here for forty years. The vintage radio (circa late 1940-50) he listens to has been there even longer and it plays an odd assortment of music and tales from his dead dad who never made it to the USA thanks to Hitler.
An irate woman (Hilary – Alma Cuervo) barges into his closed shop on the day of the Twin Towers disaster insisting he fix her broken sole. She has been walking a lot ever since “it” happened on “this beautiful day”. She’s been Downtown and at Lincoln Center, at her teaching position at Columbia and then back to Hell’s Kitchen – a mighty long hike to look as refreshed as she does.
Anyway, I have never heard of a sole of a shoe being broken – there is a worn out hole that has to be re-soled – a heel breaks. Which brings me to the pair of high heel shoes left there by a young, petite investment banker (Louise – Lucy De Vito) to be repaired that are to be picked up by her. Only they aren’t ready and she seems to be a victim, working down on Wall Street. But then she shows up without a mention of the tragedy. Is he fantasizing? What’s going on here? Didn’t she see the “CLOSED” sign on the door? It’s all very unclear. It seems that playwright Susan Charlotte likes it that way. And her director, Anthony Marsellis goes along for the ride.
The offstage voice belongs to Michael Twaine playing the father of Mr. Aiello who could probably enthrall by reading the obits from your local newspaper. He acts up a storm but the play itself is a minor mist.
Turtles, dreams, double negatives, operatic arias, family relationships and the Holocaust are featured.
Simon Says, “Stay Home.”
Photo: Ben Hider www.causecelebre.info Through Aug.14th
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