Entertainment » Theatre

Many Sides To The Reaper

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Oct 12, 2018
A scene from "Many Sides To The Reaper."
A scene from "Many Sides To The Reaper."  

Playwright Nick Albanese ("The Last Sicilian") explores the world of organized crime in the gritty drama "Many Sides To The Reaper," a new production being performed at Theatre 82 in Cranston.

Albanese plays Sal, an Italian mobster whose reputation for murder has earned him the nickname The Reaper.

Sal's devoted wife Christina (Rachel Nadeau), daughter Bianca, and mother (Tricia Elliott), consider him a protector of sorts.

Bianca serves as the play's narrator, telling us about Sal's pride in his Italian heritage, his love of cooking, and devotion to his family.

Sal's other family includes wiseguys Marco (Mario Caneiro), Vinny (Bob Mignarri), and hotheaded Joey (Mike Daniels), who trade quips in Sal's club.

They may seem very familiar to fans of the classic HBO drama "The Sopranos."

There are fears of a "war within the family" and an investigation by the FBI.

Not too surprisingly, the tension between Sal's colleagues and himself results in betrayal and murder.

However, Albanese is not playing a version of Tony Soprano here. Sal is haunted by his past and seeks some type of redemption.

Albanese brings a lot of vulnerability and depth to the character and brings us into Sal's world with his dangerous double life.

Also, the 1980s setting allows for some pop-culture name-dropping. There are references to "Miami Vice" and "Wheel of Fortune." Sal kills a man while a Wham! song blasts from a boombox. It's gruesome but also weirdly amusing.

With the walls closing in on Sal, we think we know how the story will end. But then Albanese throws in a plot twist which leads to a powerful dramatic climax.

Chantell Marie Arraial is appealing and sympathetic as Bianca, who lives much of her life having no knowledge of what her father does for a living.

Bianca recalls how a classmate attempted to rape her and how Sal "took care" of the would-be attacker.

Arraial has some powerful moments with Albanese when Bianca finds out the truth about Sal. Her illusions about what a great man Sal is are shattered. In a way, this is the greatest tragedy in the story.

John Cillino turns in solid work as Lenny, who becomes Sal's "friend" and ends up getting Sal into a lot of trouble.

Director Rhiannon Annin makes good use of Theatre 82's black box space and stages the violence and bloodshed effectively. The scenes are short and get to the point quickly. The show runs a swift 75 minutes.

Most of the action takes place in seedy dark alleys and warehouses. Sal lives his life constantly wondering who will come after him. Loyalty to his mob family takes precedence over everything else. Eventually, Sal faces his own judgment day where he has to deal with the repercussions of his actions.

"Many Sides To The Reaper" succeeds due to the capable performances of the cast and a fresh approach to looking at some troubled characters.

"Many Sides To The Reaper runs through October 27 at Theatre 82 before moving to the Granite Theatre in Westerly for three performances in November. Last Sicilian Productions. 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. For tickets, www.artists-exchange.org or www.thelastsicilian.com.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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