A Transylvanian in Silicon Valley

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

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.

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