- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

If you think past art exhibits at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden were pushing the envelope, visit Dan Steinhilber’s sculptural environments of Styrofoam food containers, and plastic cups and paint rollers in the museum’s lobby and Directions gallery. In Directions — Dan Steinhilber, the artist evokes light and shape by filling plastic tubing, bottles, plastic zip bags and bubble wrap with liquids like duck sauce, dish soap and soda pop. It’s the first museum show for the 31-year-old Washington artist and also a first for the museum: The Hirshhorn has never shown a local artist and never placed work from the show in the lobby. At the Hirshhorn, Independence Avenue at Seventh Street SW. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 24. Free. 202/357-2700.

Joanna Shaw-Eagle

Mambo Italiano proves to be a hilarious stealth weapon from Canada. Suspicions that one may be walking into the next edition of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” are dispelled even as one contemplates Paul Sorvino and Ginette Reno as a set of overweight Italian immigrants named Gino and Maria Barberini, who were transported to Montreal’s Little Italy in the late 1950s. Gino’s explanation for this relocation is a beaut. Further patience is rewarded, because writer Steve Gallucio (adapting his own play) and director Emile Gaudreault have a flair for introducing characters at their most blatant and argumentative, then following up with nuanced and contradictory impressions. Even the stale aspects of the central crisis — the Barberinis discover that their only son Angelo (Luke Kirby), who also narrates the plot, is homosexual — turn out to have fresh possibilities, predicated on the fact that no one’s ridiculous side is granted a free pass. The formidable Miss Reno is reinforced by a number of impressive comic actresses: Mary Walsh as an insinuating widow, Claudia Ferri as Angelo’s lovelorn sister Anna and Sophie Lorian (what a name) as a mantrap called Pina.

Gary Arnold

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