Wednesday, July 6

Eight Hundred Dollar Value – Etcetera Theatre

Al Carretta is the man behind Nightpiece Media, who specialize in delivering movies made on a shoe-string budget.  The mafia crime series began in August 2009 with ‘The Tears of a Clown’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has since progressed.  Eight Hundred Dollar Value is previewing at Camden Fringe Festival, moving to Edinburgh towards the end of the month, and will then be produced as a film in the Autumn.

Michael Trudon (Al Carretta) had a good life with his foster parents, they gave him everything he could ever wish for, and everything was handed to him on a plate.  ‘I didn’t have ambition; I didn’t need it!’.   Following the death of his mother and then his father leaving home, he didn’t know much about his early years until his crazy grandmother from Brooklyn sent a lawyer to trace him.  Following the death of his grandmother he attends her funeral. Suddenly he wasn’t recognised as Michael Trudon, but people he didn’t kept calling him ‘lil Donnie’.  His real name was Donnie DiMaggio Junior, and he very quickly realises that the DiMaggio family are no ordinary family, they are mafia, and he is the son of the head of the family no less. Grandmother has been taking care of things for him until he is old enough to take over.

The whole concept of the play will be familiar to viewers of the Sopranos or the Godfather.  Italian mafia families looking out for eat other, until someone does the dirty on them, and then it’s highly likely you will be on the receiving end of a bullet.  The play is well written and flows well, and Carretta’s delivery was almost rhythmic (although with the aid of a script in hand, as this is a work-in-progress), was perfectly in character, oozing mafioso characteristics and connecting well with his audience.  The play is a monologue and there is very little in the way of props except for a table and a drink that he reaches for occasionally, and he is simply dressed in a suit.

The whole package of the play works well.  It can sometimes be difficult to hold an audience’s attention with a monologue, but the dramatic nature of the story and the variation in the tone in its delivery keeps the viewer on their toes, not knowing which path the story will take next.

How this will be adapted for film, I do not know, but the popularity of mafia movies continues, and it is a strong enough script to do well. 

The preview performances run from the 16th-18th August at 5.30pm at the Etcetera Theatre at the Camden Fringe Festival and tickets can be booked at https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/eight-hundred-dollar-value/. The play then moves up to Edinburgh Fringe Festival from the 23rd-28th August.

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 16th August 2021

North West End Rating: ★★★★

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