Resident Theatre had a big success in 2008 with Vince Melocchi's LIONS,
a play about a bunch of hard-drinking, working-class football fans. LIONS
ran for a year and was published by Samuel French. Now PRT has mounted
the world premiere of Melocchi's latest play, JULIA.
Unfortunately, it's not in the same league as LIONS, which had everything
going for it--story, characters, urgency, relevance. This time around
Melocchi has narrowed his focus and settled for a character study, an
offbeat, slightly creepy one at that. Richard Fancy, in a remarkable performance,
plays Lou Perino, an old man who returns to McKeesport, a small city outside
of Pittsburgh, where he once worked in the fruit department of G.C. Murphy's
market, a local institution now slated to be torn down. The first scene
of JULIA takes place in 2004 in a sleazy coffee shop run by Steve Spinelli
(Keith Stevenson), who makes most of his money taking bets for a local
bookie. He and his gregarious pal Frank (Haskell Vaughn Anderson III)
can't understand why Lou would come all the way from Detroit just to watch
Murphy's destruction. They suspect that this bad-tempered, mysterious
stranger is an undercover cop.
We soon learn that Lou does indeed have a secret agenda, which is to seek
out the girl he loved and lost fifty years ago--the town beauty, Julia
Spinelli. In a flashback scene, the teenaged Lou (Justin Preston) and
Julia (Marley McClean) meet atop the roof of G.C. Murphy's, where they
both work as clerks. Lou, on the verge of leaving to serve in Korea, makes
a pass at Julia. Rebuffed, he attempts to rape her, an impulsive and stupid
act that he comes to regret for the rest of his life.
Lou, overwhelmed by guilt, has returned to McKeesport to "make it
right" between him and the aged Julia (Roses Prichard). Problem is,
she is not only in a nursing home but suffering from dementia. To explain
any more of this thin, all-too-predictable story would be to give too
much away. Suffice to say that a final, tear-jerking confrontation does
JULIA would have been difficult to sit through, were it not for the spendid
ensemble acting (led by the estimable Richard Fancy). Guillermo Cienfuegos'
direction helped a lot as well; ditto Norman Scott's sets and William
Wilday's lighting design.
Pacific Resident Theatre, 705 Venice Blvd. Call 310-822-8392 or visit