A lovely evening awaits at “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” through June 15th at Asolo Rep

What if you had a witty friend who offered to cook you dinner while you helped her mentally prepare for an important date with a promising beau?  You’d probably take her up on it, even if it meant listening to tales of a litany of unsuccessful relationships.

Lovely Giulia Melucci, the woman at the helm of the one-woman show “I Loved, I Lost, I Ate Spaghetti” is a one-of-a-kind – who throws together gourmet three course dinners in a tiny kitchen in New York City? I stored extra socks in my kitchen drawers in my first Manhattan apartment, so I certainly didn’t.  I’d be there, for the homemade pasta alone.

Actress Antoinette LaVecchia (Melucci) carries the entire production whilst cooking what appears to be an extremely delicious three-course feast on stage (she even rolls out fresh spaghetti). LaVecchia is engaging and she draws you in to each individual story of yet another woe-begotten suitor.

It’s quite a tour-de-force to pull off a cooking demonstration while gathering the audience in to a world she creates on stage. She paints a vivid picture of dating life among the literary elite in the City. LaVeccia never misses a beat even as she prepares the food, pours wine and serves the audience members at a smattering of cabaret tables who paid extra to eat, and answers frequent calls from her helicopter Italian mother.

The show is a great conceit and is certainly entertaining. However, I think if I were directing it, I would start the play an hour earlier, and stage it in a cabaret setting where a wait staff could serve the same meal to everyone in the “cheap seats.” It was fine for the front tables to be treated to LaVecchia’s care and attention; but I think the show would be stronger should we all get to indulge in the actress’s cooking.  Melucci said she could taste the love in everything her mother prepared, and that is a very beautiful concept, as it depicted in the lyrical film, “Like Water for Chocolate.”

If the play is built on the audience sharing in the intimacies of its lead’s life, why wouldn’t we want to be a part of something that is admittedly so important to who she is?

I recommend the play, because it is delightful to spend time with someone with such a winning personality, even if she isn’t lucky in love. However, if you are not going to splurge on the front seats, be sure to eat a hearty meal before you go!   

The play runs in the Cook Theater at Asolo Repertory Theatre through June 15th.  Go to www.asolorep.org for more information and to buy tickets.

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