Contributing Critic - New York City
“Gemini”, written by Albert Innaurato, is set in South Philadelphia in the summer of 1973 and follows Harvard student, Francis Geminiani (Charlie Reid), who is home for his 21st birthday. He receives a surprise visit from his friend and former romantic partner, Judith (Canning Robb) and her brother, Randy (Zane Michael), who Francis has secretly been harboring romantic feelings for. These three, along with Francis’s father, Fran (David Nikolas), his girlfriend, Lucille (Olivia Jampol), their neighbor, Bunny Weinberger (Ilana Kresch), and her son Herschel (Dom Giovanni) set out to celebrate Francis’ special day. The play is largely about the dysfunction of this colorful group of people trying to get through the trials of life together as well as Francis struggling to understand his feeling towards Randy .
Overall, I enjoyed this production. Though, at times, the show seemed to have a rather low energy. There are many moments in the play where the action is simply the actors standing around and talking to each other, which is not a problem in itself, though it seemed that a few times the actors were waiting for the next exciting thing to happen instead of bringing the excitement out of the moment they were living in. Though when the play was really allowed to land, both comedically and dramatically, it was a joy to watch, particularly, the moments between Francis and his father. Though Reid at times seemed to default into a sort of “quiet angst” for a good portion of the show, it was these moments with his father where we really got to see the love that the two had for each other and it was in these moments of letting go that really allowed Reid and Nikolas to shine. The story of a parent doing anything to make their child happy is one that warms the heart and Reid and Nikolas delivered.
Though, the standout performance was Dom Giovanni as Herschel Weinberger, the developmentally delayed son of Francis’ neighbor. Giovanni took a character that could have easily been used as a gross stereotype just for an easy laugh and instead gave us someone full of humanity. In addition, all of the scenes between Herschel and his mother Bunny did not feel played up for laughs. Rather than make everything bold and brash and practically waving a sign that says “This is funny!”, you as an audience member are allowed to decide how you feel about the abuse of this poor kid. Some people still laughed. I was moved and often frightened, and very much appreciated being given the option to feel that way.
Though, I feel “Gemini” doesn’t dig in to Francis’ struggles with his homosexuality as much as I would have liked to see, instead opting for the wacky antics of the people around him, and the ending feels sudden, the actors and director did a fine job with the text that they were given and put on a show that will be enjoyable for the audience.