Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Cracked Tiles, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Paul Whitelaw.
A captivating monologue written and performed by Lorenzo Novani, Cracked Tiles is an emotive portrait of one man’s struggle to make sense of his family history.
Riccardo is pushing 30. Working in the Glasgow chip shop that’s been owned by his Scots-Italian family for decades is the last place he wants to be, but a sense of clan loyalty has forced him to put his life on hold to keep it going in the wake of his father Aldo’s death.
Riccardo’s monologue is addressed to Aldo – a kindly, well-liked, second-generation immigrant who, it’s gradually revealed, was under immense strain for much of his adult life. The family business had been running at a loss for years by the time of his death. Riccardo regards it as a millstone. Was it worth the effort? What secrets are concealed in this crumbling, grease-stained empire? Did he really know Aldo at all?
The inescapable permanence of the chip shop stirs a complex stew of memories and emotions in Riccardo. He regards both it and his father with a brittle mixture of fondness and frustration.
Haunted by ghosts from the past, it leads him on a journey of vivid reminiscence. Though not without its darkly comic interludes – acutely observed impressions of some particularly vexing customers – Riccardo’s anti-nostalgia trail gathers in intensity as it reaches an exhausted emotional peak.
Novani appears to be delving into some uncomfortably personal depths here, but that’s what gives the piece its richness. He’s visibly drained by the end, with real tears in his eyes, having invested himself completely in Riccardo’s cathartic quest.
Bitterly honest, powerful and moving, Cracked Tiles establishes Novani as an actor and dramatist of some depth. Quite an achievement for a man who normally makes a living as a magician.
Spotlites (Venue 278) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 13 August 2015
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