Comic Paul Stroili’s solo performance in “Straight Up With a Twist” (formerly Renaissance Geek) is engaging, thoughtful and full of rich humor.
Credit Bill Penton for expert, savvy direction. Written and performed by the talented, sophisticated Stroili (a German-Italian who looks a bit like John Turturro), “Geek” is a self-effacing, autobiographical exploration into his identity. Stroili finds himself as a “straight guy” who possesses, in the words of his psychiatrist, “the aesthetic sensibilities of an arrogant homosexual.”
Stroili simply is attracted to “the wrong things”: the subtle distinction between midnight and cobalt blue; the ingredients of (and differences between) flan and creme brulee and “how to fold a fitted sheet.” He has even read “The Feminine Mystique.”
Somehow or other, Stroili the Straight is destined to “view the world through gay eyes.” “Straight Up With a Twist” is Stroili’s exploration of his past — in order to explain (always through humor) his confused, conflicted present. Soon, we travel with him as he hilariously embodies all of the characters in his vibrant life: his German mother Charlotte, who chain smokes while lamenting the mixed nature of her obsessive-compulsive son; his Italian father Bruno, who fears that his son is gay and tries to engage him in “man things”; his all-American jock brother John, who looks on in amusement; his bratty little sister Carrie; his college drama coach Kendal Jackson; and shrink Dr. Andrews, who decides that Stroili is “the Mercedes” of patients.
When Stroili finally gets a small role in his first film, he is cast as a gay hustler. Go figure.
Stroili met Monica in 1989 and has been living with her since then in Los Angeles, where fitting in with the lifestyle seems less of a problem and he’s somewhat more at ease with himself. He’s unmarried, a self-proclaimed blend of Tim Allen and Woody Allen.
Still, there’s hope. “We’re part of a new subculture,” he says in parting. “And we’re not freaks. We’re Renaissance geeks.”
Straight Up With a Twist
Renaissance Geek Productions LP. in cooperation with Last Nerve Prods.
Playwright: Paul Stroili
Director: Bill Penton
Producer: Denis McCallion
Set and lighting designer: David George
Artwork and Logo Design: Zack Morrissette
Music: Brian Aboozia
Cast: Paul Stroili