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Theater Reviews

/ Sunday, November 25, 2007

From Riverdale to Riverhead

By Christina Polizoto


Daytrippers: Bess Rous and Sharon Angela hit the road in From Riverdale to Riverhead.



Studio Dante brings us another only-in-New York gem with , a tale of four women, one car, and several larger-than-life personalities.


Louise’s son has just been incarcerated in Long Island’s Riverhead Correctional Facility on a rather troubling drug charge. With her two sisters and grown daughter in tow, Louise sets out from the Riverdale section of the Bronx to visit him before the end of the day’s visiting hours. Packed into a small car, the women are faced not only with a brutal winter storm, but also with each other, the latter proving to be far more hazardous. During the ride they battle over everything from directions to family history, revealing many disturbing truths in the process.


Anyone who has lamented the recent loss of “The Sopranos” will appreciate the sisters’ family dynamic of loud personalities and amusing malapropisms. The four women of Riverdale are sensational, each bringing her best to one of four distinct characters. Angelica Torn as Louise is the picture of melodrama, wailing and complaining her way to Riverhead in the passenger seat. Torn also portrays Louise’s disturbing, violent side to jarring effect. In the driver’s seat is Sharon Angela as Stella, providing laugh-a-minute comedy as the most temperamental of the four. Bess Rous, as Louise’s daughter Rosie, conveys the intelligence, soft voice, and calm demeanor necessary to offset her boisterous counterparts. Catherine Curtin as Fannie could be anyone’s “out-there” sister, with a lilting voice to match her sometimes-spacey ways.


From Riverdale to Riverhead offers an opportunity to see four fantastic women in a very New York setting. This is a car trip you’ll be happy to watch — and you’ll be even happier that you’re not in the back seat.




In Anastasia Traina’s acid comedy of family dynamics, at Studio Dante, a mousy twenty-three-year-old downtown artist named Rosie (Bess Rous) gets trapped in a car with her three volatile Italian-American aunts from the Bronx. Crude, loudmouthed Stella (played with wicked timing by Sharon Angela) drives and stirs the pot, while tenderhearted Fannie (Catherine Curtin) labors to keep the peace and self-absorbed Louise (Angelica Torn) contemplates their grim destination: her son’s prison. Under Nick Sandow’s direction, the ensemble creates a startling picture of the sisters’ ancient rivalries and unmet longings, sustaining a note of prickly tension under the laughs. A late, unconvincing plot twist asserts that the sisters’ bite is worse than their bark, but it’s that bark—painful, childish, and oh so familiar—that really persuades. (257 W. 29th St. 212-868-4444. Through June 30.)




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