Shut Up Sit Down & Eat is described as a plomedy. That is a new theatrical event that blends the wit of stand up comedy and the intensity of a one-man show presented in an innovative play format by professionals. This play lives up to its description. The four performers Tina Giorgio, Joe Moffa, Eric Tartaglione, and Chris Monty are also listed as writers. There is one more writer who does not appear; Tom Ingegno. I imagine the performers writing contributions come from their stand up comedy acts. The play is briskly directed by Eve Brandstein.
The premise is that the four performers meet in an office. They are each waiting for an appointment with a psychotherapist. She does not arrive, so they talk together. They are all Italian-American. They all come from blue collar working class families. The only female appears to have had more education than the others. They discuss their experiences of being raised by “old school” parents, perhaps immigrants. They are more assimilated and can look back and laugh at the differences between them and the older generation. They can also compare notes on the next generation of their children vs. their life styles. There are differences between them. One of the men is not married and still lives with his mother. The solo woman is not following the traditional role. She doesn’t want children, and doesn’t even know how to cook. It is unheard of that an Italian female does not cook.
Their early conversations cover some tired subject matter; corrections of words “not macaroni but pasta””not gravy but sauce”. They sit on a line of four chairs. From time to time one gets up and does a kind of stand up bit on the subject at hand. The sight lines are much better when the actors stand, especially in the back seats. There are comparisons to share. The old tradition of “familia” with weekly meals together. One character says: “until we realized they were all dysfunctional” They contrast their relationships with their kids who not only don’t visit but don’t even have jobs.
Of course some of the usual subjects; marriage, sex, prostate trouble, etc. are presented. But most of the writing is crisp and funny, enhanced by a smooth stand up delivery. One joke, a type not unusual in the theater or comedy rooms is told. “What do you call an Italian man who’s not handy? Jewish!” Just as we see all the Italians are not one way, can’t that be true of Jews too?
The audience laughed alot. They were thoroughly entertained. A woman told me this was her second time seeing the show. It had the poignancy that underlies much of hilarious comedy. I was impressed that the material was at a higher level than is often presented on these subject matters.
Shut Up Sit Down & Eat – Written by and Starring Tina Giorgi, Joe Moffa, Eric Tartagione, Chris Monty,co-written by Tom Ingegno; directed by Eve Brandstein. Presented by Plomedy Productions. At The SnappleTheater Center Street, 201 West 50 Street, Manhattan 718 544 5275. Running time: 90 minutes THrough December 28, 2014