BOTTOM LINE: One family's search for happiness after a past filled with regret, loneliness, and an average amount of family dysfunction.
Imagine a stereotypical blue collar Italian-American family in Boston: thick accents, copious references to eggplant parmesan and asti spumante, and problems with anger management. You now have a clear picture of the Broncatos, the clan at the center of Lost and Found. Although the characters are given great opportunity to play up these stereotypes in the show's humorous moments (of which there are many), they are also exposed emotionally through the show's darker plot line: the idea that a great loss can forever change the course of one's life.
Eva Broncato (Geraldine Librandi) has just lost her husband to cancer (or a car accident, depending on how you look at it). While she deals with her grief, her adult children Marie (Dana Domenick) and Tommy (John Pollono, also the playwright) are struggling with their own issues of love and abandonment while trying to make adult decisions. Amidst this conflict appears a stranger, literally at their doorstep, to add another layer of tension to the already restless household. The stranger, Vincent (Jon Krupp), and his partner Alex (Jonathan Bock) unwittingly open the Broncatos' eyes to the relationships that are possible when you acknowledge the past and let people in.
Many dramatic moments are brought to the table in Lost and Found and almost all of the eight characters have breakdown moments that range from controlled rage to tormented sadness to a histrionic power struggle. Although this makes for ample conflict, it keeps the plot's import at a constant high. As a result, the show emits a soap opera vibe. If that's your thing, you won't be disappointed, and you certainly won't be bored. These heightened sentiments also leave little room for subtext, and this is my one beef with the script. I would have loved to learn more about the characters and the reasons behind their actors, but with so much happening in only two hours, what you see is what you get. There isn't time for discovery.
The production value is high and the performances are quite impressive, especially given that nearly everyone has to journey to a raw and exposed place to bring these inner struggles to the surface. Andrew Block's direction makes skillful use of the playing space, allowing the Broncatos' kitchen to be the hub of the activity, with everyone coming, going, eating and living.
Lost and Found is an ambitious play with a lot of conflicted moments for the characters to navigate. The family members develop as the story unfolds, and they are better people in the end. If family dramas are your bag, you should make it a point to see this show. But keep it mind that it is effecting on a visceral level more than an intellectual level.
(Lost and Found plays at the The Cherry Pit, 155 Bank Street between West and Washington Avenues, through August 27th. Remaining performances are Monday 8/23 at 10:15pm, Thursday 8/26 at 9:15pm and Friday 8/27 at 3pm. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)