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Memories Haunt the House at '4318 Clarendon Road'

June 29, 2001|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

George Tricker's "4318 Clarendon Road" at the AT&T Digital Media Center is a likable but predictable play about the travails of an Italian American family in 1948 Brooklyn.

From "The Glass Menagerie" onward, the memory play, with its omniscient adult narrator pondering the vicissitudes of his upbringing, has become a theatrical staple. "Clarendon Road" is yet another entry in this overpopulated field.

Our tour guide down memory lane is the adult George Barberie (Warren Berlinger), who returns to his childhood home after the death of his emotionally abusive father, Richard (Joe J. Garcia), to lay to rest the ghosts of his painful past. As George reminisces, scenes from his childhood spring to life, and George has the opportunity to confront and question relatives from his extended clan whom he holds responsible for his lifelong unhappiness.

George finds that most of his loved ones weren't so bad after all--with one exception. In a neat twist, Tricker laces the treacle with acid, rendering George's father an irredeemable scoundrel for whom reconciliation or redemption is impossible.

Apart from that, the plot holds few surprises, but director Jeremiah Morris has assembled a bang-up cast that makes this sentimental journey a whirlwind tour. Although she occasionally hesitates over a line, Mimi Cozzens, who plays George's paternal grandmother Edith, is the personification of the harsh yet loving Italian matriarch. Carl Strano is superb as Sevarino, Edith's domineering father, an Old World Italian with a shocking secret. Others in the cast include Michael Alaimo, Judith Ann Levitt, Travis Tedford, Butkas, Kathy Molter and Karen Reed, all uniformly terrific. An affable old pro who knows how to jerk a tear with the best of them, Berlinger is the cherry on top of this rich cast.

*

* "4318 Clarendon Road," AT&T Digital Media Center, 12312 W. Olympic Blvd., West L.A. Saturdays, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 and 7 p.m. Ends Saturday. $10. (310) 979-5105. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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