Nick Salamone's play examines the ways in which homophobia, guilt, self-delusion and hypocrisy cause the gradual disintegration of the Cardamones, a first-generation Italian-American family. Louie Cordero (Paul Haitkin), his younger brother, Michael (Ray Oriel), and their friend Joey (Ed Martin) go off to serve in World War II. Michael and Joey, serving in France, secretly become lovers. After the war, Louie marries his sweetheart, Livvy (Sandra Purpuro), but he also discovers the relationship between Michael and Joey, and his virulent homophobia is aroused. Pressured by salty, bossy older sister Vita (Cynthia Gravinese), who wants to save him for middle-class respectability, Michael marries a sweetly naïve hospital nurse, Ella (Victoria Hoffman), whom he'd like to love, but doesn't. Meanwhile, Livvy, desolate over Louie's death, writes sonnets to relieve her pain. Director Jon Lawrence Rivera sensitively explores the rich characters and understated subtleties of Salamone's play, with fine assistance from his able and faithful cast. Haitkin, in particular, scores as both homophobic Louie and his scholarly pro-gay son. Davidson/Valentini Theatre, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m., through March 13. (323) 860-7300, lagaycenter.org/boxoffice. (Neal Weaver)
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 18. Continues through April 17, 2011
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