A naive Kansas farm boy gets entangled with a boisterous Italian-American family in Thomas and Judy Heath’s heartwarming family comedy. When Hadley Smith (Bronson Taylor) finds no dorms available at NYU in 1981, he takes a room for rent with the Normellino clan of Queens. Though he sometimes feels like a fish out of water—his quiet innocence clashing with the loud-mouthed, boorish characters he now lives with—eventually they all learn to swim together happily. Taylor gives a wonderfully understated performance, conveying an intense, palpable awkwardness. (Sean X. Marino is less engaging as the grown-up version of the same character, who narrates the show.) Patrick Arnheim, Lara Allred, Tripp Hamilton and Katie Holland, portraying various Normellinos, commendably resist the temptation to fall into cartoonish Italian stereotypes. Comedic though the characters' interactions often are, the play ultimately evokes nostalgia for a world in which family dinners and face time were more common. The result is a Fringe experience as delicious as one of Mama Normellino’s home-cooked meals.—Valerie David
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