Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me, but Banjos Saved My Life
Regina Fringe Festival
Keith Alessi is a man on a mission: To stay positive, to make the most of life, and…to learn to play the pile of banjos he keeps stashed away in his closet.
His solo show, Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me, But Banjos Saved My Life, explores Alessi’s success in the corporate world, and about he left it all behind to follow his musical passion. It is well-written (although parts of it could be fleshed out more: what does his family and coworkers think of his banjo passion? Who are his banjo heroes? Is there any banjo tradition in Italy, was there one in Windsor?), although it is very scripted. That is the main criticism I have with this show: The words – although very personal and clearly meaningful – sometimes appear almost recited by rote, and possibly a revision of the script would keep the delivery fresh from an admitted non-actor.
Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me is more like an intimate Ted Talk than a theatrical show. However, Alessi is not an actor, and he does not claim to be one. The audience appeared enthralled with his story, and he performs with a genuine passion – the man sure loves his banjos! The message of the show is positive and inspiring, and is delivered in a compelling manner. Alessi is following his dream, and doing it well. Even if that dream involves playing the theme from Deliverance more often than anything else!