David Wiernik provides us with the 4th Angela’s Kitchen review from our ‘Art of the Review’ workshop. Enjoy.
He plays his aunt. He plays his grandmother. But most of all he plays it believably. In a remarkable one man show, Paul Capsis brings to life the personalities of his past. From the shores of Malta to the streets of Surry Hills, Capsis capitalises on the colourful upbringing that is his heritage. The audience is there with him, every step of the way, always included and always welcome in ‘Angela’s Kitchen’.
The staging is simple yet the story is staggering in its scope. Capsis utilises family heirlooms and memorabilia to transport the audience to his ethnic roots. Encompassing traditional theatrical elements as well as those rarely seen on stage, Capsis takes the audience on a journey across oceans and through time as he recounts the adventures of the well-drawn characters of his family tree.
Throughout the play still images and videos are cast upon a lone cupboard as a means of immersing the audience further into the characters’ eventful lives. Chalk-like titles can be seen on the walls of the theatre representing chapters in the unravelling tale of a Maltese family’s hardships and struggles.
What Capsis brings to the role is honesty and strength. The characters seem real and evidently mean a lot to the actor as he portrays individuals not as time-worn caricatures but distinct personalities with faults.
Time has not faded the memory Capsis has of close and distant relatives. The profound effect these family members had on a young man’s sensibilities is obvious with the fondness in his voice as he recounts their many wise anecdotes especially those of his grandmother, Angela.
Capsis seamlessly switches from matriarch to patriarch using simple costume changes to further enhance his vulnerability. Soundscapes are employed to keep the audience hot on the heels of Capsis’ evolving narrative with the stark contrast between the worlds of Malta and Australia being conveyed convincingly.