To Oriana Fallaci, political journalism was a blood sport. The Italian journalist counted as her conquests such lions of the world stage as the Ayatollah Khomeini, Fidel Castro, Muammar Gaddafi, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, Golda Meir, and Indira Gandhi. She had a particular penchant for gutting despots.
In Lawrence Wright's new play, Fallaci, the playwright imagines a fictional confrontation between the intellectual icon and an up-and-coming writer. It is an interview that is, by turns, a mentor/protégé tête-à-tête, a verbal joust, an investigative probe, a game of cat and mouse and -- at its most contrived -- turn-taking sessions on the psychoanalyst's couch.
It is, of course, an overview of the author and journalist's career, her coups and her contradictions told through theatrical dialogue. And it is, more or less, the dramatized Cliff Notes of Oriana Fallaci.
Concetta Tomei plays Fallaci, a proud journalistic pugilist who speaks of herself in the third person. Fallaci is a strong crusader for truth, justice, and the European way. In later life, this zeal became what many perceived as a staunch, anti-Islamic stance. She wrote that Muslim immigration, aided by liberal tolerance, was turning Europe into Eurabia, a "colony of Islam."
As Fallaci, Tomei gives a dynamic performance. She nearly beats her chest with the roar of righteousness. Tomei excels at capturing Fallaci's provocative rhetoric. With a thick Italian accent and raspy voice, Tomei inhabits the character thoroughly. (Although, she did remind me a bit of Tracey Ulllman playing Arianna Huffington.)