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A Transylvanian in Silicon Valley 

Dodging bullets, delivering truckloads of blood -- just another day in Romania

Wednesday, May 19 2004
Although capped off with a coda of motivational speech, Silvian Centiu's monologue -- about his clamber from Eastern Bloc anguish to upper-level management at Oracle -- doesn't carry a moralizing tone. Centiu has had humility beaten into him, but he hasn't been beaten, and that's a story worth telling. He's a natural raconteur, and his best material is in the humbling episodes: dodging bullets on the Romanian border; driving a truckload of blood into Transylvania and not getting the joke; finding out the hard way that the common verbs of his native tongue sound like obscenities in English. To learn our language, he sought tireless talkers and found a great triptych of American culture: trade show, car dealership, courtroom. Whether wading into the undertow of communism or capitalism, Centiu stays buoyant via a highly refined black humor. A Transylvanian is perfectly publishable as it stands, but on the page it would lack the music of his accent and his shrugging, conversational cadence -- a refreshing rebuke to the writerly affect all too common in bare-stage monologues. Centiu really talks to us, even if he does make us feel guilty about our easy lives.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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