Those of us who remember Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo,” either the stage or movie version, remember it as a dark, poignant story of love and lust in the deep south. It didn’t seem like the type of play you would expect Ed Shea to select and direct at 2nd Story Theatre. And it is not the play I expected to see. Shea has taken the dark story, pumped up the dark humor and made it a fun evening for actors and audiences.
Rae Mancini was made for the role of Serafina, the Sicilian housewife whose truck driver husband is killed, sending her into a deep depression. She sits around the house in her slip, with unkempt hair, refusing any visitors, and over-protecting her 15-year-old daughter (Valerie Westgate). Despite the gossip of her neighbors, Serafina believes her husband has been faithful to her, worshiping his ashes, which have a prominent place in her living room, along with a Madonna statue.
The first act deals with her refusal to let those around her tarnish the memory of her unfaithful husband. It is a busy act, with children, the local priest (Vince Petronio), her apparent only friend (Paula Faber) and a flurry of old biddies constantly annoying her.
Who should show up but a handsome, horny hunk of a young truck driver (Ara Boghigian), whose body reminds her of her husband’s. He makes a play for her and is initially rejected. Meanwhile, her daughter is being pursued by a young sailor, much to her concern.
The second act is short, steamy, sexy and sidesplitting funny, as Serafina and Alvaro connect on an emotional and physical level.
Remembering this as a dark soap opera, and then seeing it as broad humor, almost to the point of spoofing Williams, was a pleasant surprise. There are still a number of references to the author’s life and a lot of symbolism, but the laughs outnumber them.
And then there is the amazing set by Trevor Elliott, who spins his stage around without missing a beat, as the characters move from the front porch to the living room.
“The Rose Tattoo” is at 2nd Story Theatre 28 Market St. in downtown Warren through May 26. Tickets are $25 (under 21 $20). Call 247-4200 or go online at www.2ndstorytheatre.com.