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118 pages
1 hour
May 6, 2016


Sexy, provocative, and challenging, Espresso is a rich, dark, bitter hit of comedy and sensuality. A single actress alternately narrates and enacts her own and her family’s history along with an uninvited narrator/actor, Amante (lover” in Italian). We are never sure whether Rosa has created Amante or he has created her. Cast of 1 woman and 1 man.
May 6, 2016

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Espresso - Lucia Frangione



Production History

Characters and Setting

Act One

Act Two

About the Author


to Leila, with whom I’ve spoken the language

This play is a dark dream I’ve managed to stab onto paper. Real events swirl together with wild metaphors, fantasies, and nightmares. I first came up with the idea a decade ago when I stood beside my father’s hospital bed, his chest broken open and his heart lacerated from falling asleep at the wheel. His condition was so fragile, a few excited palpitations could kill him. Through my tears I was guiltily piecing together a plot line, thinking: What a fascinating way to die.

Amante means lover in Italian, and that is the best way I can describe the spiritual energy that comes to me in times of loneliness and grief. Maybe he’s female fantasy, maybe he’s an undigested bit of beef, a hormonal flush, a chemical imbalance in my brain, or maybe he’s Jesus. I don’t know. But I’m a lucky woman.

It is entirely biblical for Christ to manifest himself as the groom, but we usually picture him at the altar in the suit, not in the honeymoon suite alive and kicking. It shocks even me to read the erotica of Song of Solomon. While I was writing this play, Amante kept barging into my brain. He made sure I didn’t skip over the hard parts, he demanded I give all my characters a chance to explain their side of the story. Amante challenged me to put him on stage and come out of the closet as a Christian and as a Sensualist, and explore the metaphors that have been fig-leafed by the church for centuries. He’s probably going to get me excommunicated. Oh well. He’s worth it.


January 2004

Espresso was first commissioned and world premiered by Pacific Theatre with the generous support of the Canada Council. The play was dramaturged by D.D. Kugler* and workshopped with Laurier Dubeau,* Jillian Fargey,* Gina Chiarelli,* Michael Kopsa,* and Kerry Vandergriend.*

The workshop and world premiere were directed by Morris Ertman* and produced by Scott Campbell under the artistic direction of Ron Reed at Pacific Theatre, Vancouver, January 24 to February 22, 2003, with the following cast:

ROSA: Lucia Frangione*

AMANTE: Todd Thomson*

Stage Managed by Allan Thompson

Costume Design by Rebekka Sorenson

Set and Lighting Design by Kevin McAllister

Sound by Noah Drew

*Appeared courtesy of Canadian Actor’s Equity Association.



Rosa is a thirty-year-old first generation Canadian woman with an Italian father. Her exterior is a thin, calm, smiling, urbane skin, almost apologetic. It stretches to hold in the red passionate blood that boils just below the surface. She keeps a distance. She prides herself on being objective and recounts this story in order to sort out the voices that live within her, and maintain her sense of reality, thus pushing out Amante, who threatens to woo her into the Divine chaos of Love. In her subconscious lies The Song of Solomon, a slender book of ancient Hebrew erotica found in the Bible.


Amante is a swarthy sensual tomcat. It’s not clear as to whether Rosa has created him or whether he has created Rosa. He intervenes with truth when Rosa would choose to skip over it, and he speaks when Rosa no longer can. Though she tries to deny his presence, he constantly uses the story to provoke her into responding. He is passionate, earthy, jealous, unpredictable, mischievous, vulnerable, and beautiful. He is Love.


Rosa does not want to believe in Amante, but she can’t wholly deny his presence. She tells the story of her father’s car accident, in effort to explain him away. Through the telling, Amante aggressively woos her and provokes an acknowledgment of his reality, challenging her to open her heart, though never trespassing her will.


Rosa is the estranged daughter of Vito, who has just been pulled out of a gruesome car wreck and rushed to the hospital. She flies down to see him and is joined in the waiting room by her Nonna, her stepmother, Chinz, and a pack of Italian relatives. Glamorous Chinz (Vincenza) is full of bravado, a survivor of many disasters. She is a fiery little pit bull of a woman who leaves bright red lipstick on all of her squashed cigarette butts. Love is martyrdom for her and that is why she married Vito. She is ruled by superstition and prays to a passive aggressive Catholic hierarchy of saints and Deity. She is a landed immigrant from northern Italy and Nonna Rosa hates her. Nonna Rosa is the matriarch widow, a wrinkled black olive. Vito is her favourite son and Rosa is her favourite granddaughter. Nonna can wither any hearty perennial with a single look and her judgment is final. She is mostly silent, when she speaks it is often operatic in its drama. She was forced into marriage at the age of thirteen and she hasn’t known independence until now, at the age of sixty-seven.

The playing time of Espresso is approximately one hour and forty-five minutes with one intermission.


ROSA strips her bed, she has no clean sheets. She sits

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