Not the first, not the second, but the third Joe Charnitski is here from New York to share his story of three lives, two eulogies, and getting out of a small town. Witty, humble, and inviting, Joe Charnitski’s Funeral will entertain all ages.
This playwright-performer is a natural storyteller. In his opening moments, he sincerely welcomes us into the cozy upstairs of Pursuit Wine Bar. He is clad in a bathrobe and Superman tee, which, combined with his demeanor, turns the bar into an attic-bedroom aesthetic. Using the eulogies of two men – both named Joe Charnitski – as a framing device, Charnitski dives headfirst into a dramatic retelling of some formative moments in his life. “In lieu of flowers, please give me your attention,” he smiles.
The two eulogies, of course, are for his grandfather and father. The first funeral, for his grandfather, is wrapped up in a young Joe’s vision for his future. He brings us along as he revisits his decision to apply to New York University in order to leave his small town in Pennsylvania, and his father’s response. He discusses his decision to stay in New York after college – and then, in a bittersweet turn of events, his decision to return to his hometown to support his family.
Joe Charnitski’s Funeral
closes July 22, 2017
Details and tickets
Well – there’s a Girl. And there’s also his father, whose health is no longer stable. Balancing ego and dreams in Luzerne was not in Joe’s Plan. He wanted to be in show business, in entertainment. Those plans seem to be making less and less sense the longer he is in Luzerne. Over the course of the show, Charnitski shares with us how the experience impacted his closest relationships at the time, with interludes of topical memories and Bruce Springsteen.
The only drawback is that the bar is not handicap-accessible. This is of course a critique of the venue, not the artist; but still worthy of note for Fringe as it will likely impact the ability of elderly or disabled audience members from accessing a performance that would resonate with them.
If it had been possible, this critic certainly would have enjoyed sharing this intimate piece with some of her older family members and discussing how generational differences might impact our understanding of its themes. The summary in the program explains that this play touches on “swallowing your pride when you do go home again.” As a mid-20 something, DC-transplant-from-the-suburbs with big dreams, that theme really hit home. This is just one of many relatable ideas Charnitski muses over in Joe Charnitski’s Funeral. Don’t miss this well-crafted solo performance!