Review: Tiresome ‘Ragu’ would be better as memoir

Hyping a production to the extent that Capital Repertory Theatre hyped “Blood Type: Ragu” may boost

Hyping a production to the extent that Capital Repertory Theatre hyped “Blood Type: Ragu” may boost attendance, but it opens the door to major disappointment.

Written and performed by Frank Ingrasciotta, the show is a laborious, plodding, self-indulgent journey down the playwright’s personal memory lane.

‘Blood Type: Ragu’

WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany

WHEN: Through June 19

HOW MUCH: $50-$30

MORE INFO: 445-SHOW (7469) or

“For years,” Ingrasciotta comments in some preshow publicity, “in social situations, I would casually recount stories about my colorful Italian upbringing. Usually, the reaction would be belly laughter and even a few tears leading to the response, ‘You really should write about this.’ ”

I would agree that if you ever encounter this gentleman in someone’s living room, after a glass of wine or two, do encourage him to relate an anecdote about his childhood. It could be funny and it could easily kill a sociable 10 minutes or so. But placed in the framework of a 90-plus-minute, one-man show, the anecdotes become tiresome, not in the least worthy of “belly laughter,” not at all “colorful” and, in truth, downright boring.

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For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell’s preview of this show, click here.

His parents bicker incessantly, for instance. One bicker over one apparently meaningless issue would tend to amuse a casual listener, but an evening of sniping, threats of physical violence and suicide and childhood angst are only tedious.

This is obviously a very personal story for the author and maybe he should write about it — in a memoir. A memoir is something you can read and put down when it gets too painful or burdensome. You can go to the kitchen for a cup of tea or out to the garden to pull a few weeds. But in the context of a play done without intermission, one feels trapped by the misery.

There are a few funny bits and some could be funnier. His sojourn to the famous “Chicken Ranch” for his initiation into manhood could have been hilarious. It is not. There is a lack of effervescence about the scene and while it may be true and exactly as the playwright remembers it, it is not the stuff of which great theater is made.

And that could be the problem. Ingrasciotta may just be too close to the material.

Attempts are made to theatricalize the production. It is, in fact, overburdened with special effects. Cartoon layouts of the house at 1406 Willoughby Ave. where the playwright grew up fill the backdrop of an otherwise nondescript set. An airplane is seen soaring behind him when his mother decides to carry him off to Sicily to escape her hateful marriage.

The images of Sicilian houses with laundry hanging from clotheslines are actually pretty and a field of sunflowers is soothing. The disco ball and hits from the ’70s do tend to break up the boredom.

But I would say to all connected with this production, “Step back!” See this for what it is. Read the memoir.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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