Aven’u Boys, Circle Theatre. You can tell Frank Pugliese is an award-winning television writer: he’s great at attention-grabbing moments–suddenly violent conversations, suddenly sexy arguments. Surprising plot developments always occur just about the time one gets the urge to see what’s on another channel. Most important, though, Pugliese has nothing new to say, which is very reassuring for producers and advertisers. He just serves up the same old cliches in new packaging.
In Aven’U Boys Pugliese gives us three disaffected blue-collar Italian-American adolescents in Brooklyn who conform to all the stereotypes: they’re prone to violence, have dead-end futures, and treat women rather badly (though the women usually give as good as they get). Even the one new wrinkle in Pugliese’s story, a fairly frank treatment of racism, is nothing compared to what Spike Lee did in Jungle Fever and Do the Right Thing, both of which were out on video by the time this play premiered in 1993.
Circle Theatre’s production, directed by Jay Fontanetta, is filled with intense performances, notably by Samuel G. Munoz as the inarticulate, violent Ed and Jeff Radue as his smaller, more weaselly friend Charlie. But acting alone can’t overcome the script’s weaknesses.