The most inventive, wondrous sets in Manhattan are being created by Concrete Temple Theatre at the HERE Arts Center in the Village. Water is integral to the production of “The Bellagio Fountain has been known to make me cry,” and Water takes two agile performers to bring into existence nightly: Brianna Seagraves and the ingenious Carlo Adinolfi, who is also the Designer of the set. The first sound the audience hears is ocean waves; I thought it was a recording, until I saw Adinolfi, literally cutting paper as he crossed the stage, fold over fold, creating not only shapes but also sounds. His work is extraordinary.
Unfortunately, the script, by Renee Philippi, who also directs, does not live up to the sets, though the actors are very fine. Set in Florida, land of heat, humidity and hurricanes, Curtis (Heinley Gaspard) a plumber, used to love water until his wife drowned; now he hates water and his job. Nevertheless, a leak brings him in contact with Dixie (Melissa Hurst), a woman with a 5th grade education but who “reads a lot” and has a strained relationship with her daughter Maria (Lisa Kitchens), who lives in the house next to her.
In the first half of “Bellagio” there are allusions to ancient water reclaiming the earth, mourning and the longing for love. That would have worked, and the longing for love in particular is what I thought the three had in common: lost love, love yet to be, love that has passed one by. But then, for no apparent reason, there is the Italian husband of Dixie’s who may have cheated and had another child so obviously they must separate and cause friction between her and Maria; and there are a few children of Maria’s from her divorce mentioned, but the children do not figure into her life at all.These subplots involve unseen characters, are confusing, and I didn’t believe any of it for a second.
What I did believe: Dixie on her own, in a trailer. Her daughter, divorced, also alone, in a trailer next to her. Curtis (who inexplicably drops out of the play completely), also alone. It is another thing that binds them together, along with various stages of love. Those elements plus Adinolfi’s stunning sets would have made an interesting play. No other characters necessary. Less sometimes yields more.