Mr. Paul Cosentino
Private Yoga Instruction
"Stop. Look. Listen. Sage advice from the placid, amiable guru who serves as an anchor in the interweaving lives of the 8 other characters – each played distinctly by Paul Cosentino. The guru asks the class participants to think over the connections they’ve made that day and to look deeper. From the middle-aged Jewish wife, to the young pregnant black girl, to the gay Yoga instructor – these characters remind us that we’re all connected. Michael Levesque’s script craftily interweaves the story lines, each one beginning where the previous one leaves off, eventually building up to interaction between characters. With Thom Fogarty’s simple and genuine direction, Cosentino seamlessly flows from one character to the next. Although the script is not perfect (at times the text is contrived and the ending needs sharpening) between Cosentino’s stage presence and the humor that catches you off guard, it is a truly satisfying piece of theatre. The show relies heavily on Cosentino’s acting prowess with subtle lighting shifts to set each scene. There are no gimmicks, highly charged dialogue or even that much action – what there is, however, is a reminder that there is no such thing as a bad connection. That if we take the time to stop, look and listen, then maybe we can get through."
- Ashley Steed, LA Theatre Review
"The first truly mesmerizing performance I’ve witnessed at this Fringe transports us to rainy day Manhattan and a cast of characters wounded by the ragged shear of love. These sort of shows seem to pop up every other year at the festival — solo efforts by some adrenalin junky who conjures up a dizzying array of multiple players on the stage. Three years back, American comedienne Susan Jeremy animated a cast of 20-plus characters in P.S. 69, her one-woman tribute to life as a New York substitute teacher.The whirlwind of theatrics is always impressive but sometimes the work can come off as a bit of a stunt. Well, the Paul Cosentino show now spellbinding Acacia Hall is no stunt. The moment-to-moment veracity that this California actor packs in every scene actually pulls you to the edge of your seat. At first they seem a random bunch, these nine souls that Cosentino brings to life on a barren stage, largely due to their differences. The first character we meet is a guru, one of those placid beneficients so mellow and calming you might find yourself actually following along with his deep-breathing cues. The next is a pregnant Puerto Rican woman spitting fire into a subway pay phone after losing her purse. There’s a sad cardiologist, his woefully unfulfilled, woefully Jewish wife; a young Italian shopkeeper and his ailing grandfather; a child who’s seen a bit too much of the household drama; and a yoga instructor with his stuff locked down so tight and true he’d never dream of admitting that he’s absolutely miserable. There are a lot of laughs with this self-deprecating bunch, as their various missed connections and evolving relationships weave slowly and intricately to the dramatic climax, and it’s to Cosentino’s great credit — as well as playwright Michael Levesque — that our anticipation builds unbearably for those moments when one character crashes into another."
- Richard Helm, The Edmonton Journal
“The universe is perfect,” announces an East Indian guru to the audience gathered to see Bad Connections?, “and if you are here it was because you were meant to.” Stop, look, listen — the universe is trying to tell you something: try and nab a ticket to the one man show Bad Connections? Paul Cosentino plays “nine eccentric New Yorkers” on a rainy Manhattan day in the play directed by Thom Forgarty. Don’t read into “eccentric” as being sitcom archetypes, rather these characters are each fully-defined thanks to Cosentino’s breathtaking skill at switching from one voice to the next. A diverse assortment of hapless beings are on display: the after-mentioned guru, a sassy pregnant Puerto Rican woman unleashing obscenities to everyone within earshot after losing her purse; a wise-guy Italian shopkeeper wrestling with his dying grandfather; a young boy innocent to the turmoil overtaking his family; a doctor who can seemingly help others but not himself and his Jewish wife who yearns for some attention; and a gay yoga instructor trying hard to keep his life together. All live separate lives yet they are connected through their actions and the forces of fate. Characters wrestle with their feelings while on the phone, face to face, or in Catholic confession. “I don’t take pleasure in making you cry,” the doctor tries to make clear to his wife, who has admitted to her therapist that she’s become the Invisible Woman in her 50s. The ailing man confides to the other patient in his hospital room about “seeing the light” and looks forward to passing to a place where “you’re always forgiven.” During a downward facing dog stretch, the yoga instructor frets over his secret lover’s indecisiveness: “What’s the point of having free will if you don’t exercise it?” Sometimes their lines of communication break down, but as the guru says, “the connections either help or hinder you.” Playwright Michael Levesque builds the storylines until the crucial juncture where everyone comes together. No detail is overlooked, even a simple pair of Pez dispensers carry significance that becomes apparent as the 90-minute play unfolds. Cosentino proves to be a master of his craft as he handles every accent and nuance with flair. Excited audience members were seen after the show counting the different characters with their fingers, recalling favourite lines. “Miracles don’t happen, they are always there,” the guru reiterates to the audience towards the end. Bad Connections? is a miracle of theatre, a Fringe connection you must make.
- Chad Huculak, Edmonton Sun
Cherish your dreams. They are the children of your soul and the blueprints to your ultimate success. GAK
Website by Thriving Web Solutions