LOS ANGELES TIMES
One Guy’s Odyssey From Geek Boy to ‘Renaissance’ Man
By JANA J. MONJI
Special to The Times
Are you a heterosexual man whose knowledge of fine dining and color coordination make people suspect you are gay? Are you looking for fellowship and a label? Listen to one man’s crusade to bring comfort to heterosexual men who have “good taste and a great eye for color.” Paul Stroili’s solo show, “STRAIGHT UP WITH A TWIST,” (formerly Renaissance Geek)at the Tamarind Theatre, is a gently humorous odyssey through growing up geeky.
What is a Renaissance Geek? It’s one of the plethora of men who exist between Tim Allen and Woody Allen, between Charles Bronson and Charles Nelson Reilly. Portraying his family members and a child psychiatrist, writer-performer Stroili defines the reasons for this predilection–he wanted to impress girls. He also recounts his difficulties of growing up with the “social and aesthetic sensibilities of an arrogant homosexual.” Life is hard when your father is Italian and your mother is German–“the only two nationalities more violent than the Irish.” Such a hereditary nightmare produces offspring who are “passionate in their need to control the world.” As a teenager, Stroili had the additional burden of looking like “Don Knotts, except taller and not as hefty.”
Under the sure direction of Bill Penton, Stroili smoothly moves between past and present, easily switching genders, ages and attitudes for humorous but loving portrayals of his family and familiars. Stroili allows two audience members to test their geekiness. Like the rest of the show, it’s all in good fun. BE THERE.
“Straight Up with a Twist,” Tamarind Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Oct. 29. $17.50. (310) 289-2999. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.