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My Big Gay Italian Wedding
Published on Saturday, 13 August 2011

3 stars

C venues - C (venue website)
3-22 Aug, 8:30pm-9:45pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

I was brought up around the Italian community, and there’s really nothing I like better than a production that recognises how utterly over-the-top and hilarious Italians can be. My Big Gay Italian Wedding was much like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, only Italian and on steroids. And if it isn’t the campest, tackiest thing you’ll see all festival, then it will be in the top three. But despite the stereotypes and the cliched plot, I challenge you to not laugh uproariously.

The production’s plot is simple enough to understand. Anthony wants to marry his boyfriend Andrew, but there’s an obstacle to overcome: Anthony’s family is Italian (in that very traditional way), and won’t agree to the wedding unless it’s preformed by a Catholic priest. What’s more, Andrew’s mother (who has essentially disowned her son for being gay) is required to give her blessing. Basically, the whole show is a conglomeration of an average plot, cliched writing, decent acting and too many stereotypes to count. So why did I enjoy it so much?

Despite its numerous faults, there were so many things right with it. What I enjoyed most was how interactive it was. From the minute you lined up outside the theatre, the actors were in your face and welcoming you - point one for cultural accuracy. They weaved through the audience offering free food (potato chips, but hey! Another point for cultural accuracy). As an audience member, you take on the role of a wedding guest watching the hilarious drama unfold.

A production with a premise like this one could have been extremely exclusive. But in its exaggerated parody form, you’ll get the joke even if you’re neither Italian nor gay. The musical and dance numbers were fabulous, and I won’t give it away, but there’s a stellar scene with Anthony’s sister near the end that had everybody simultaneously in stitches and in awe of her talent.

There’s a bit too much going on with the plot. Andrew has a problem with an ex-lover that really doesn’t fit with the story, and could have been replaced with some less predictable drama. At times, the actors’ lines read like a badly written soap opera. But even in these moments where I cringed, I had to admire the production’s ability to laugh at its own absurdity.

Maybe it was because the audience got completely immersed into it, but the humour of this production is infectious. Even if the jokes aren’t new, they’re produced with such gusto that it’s hard not to let out the smallest chuckle. So, this isn’t the most creative production at the Fringe, but it’s a great way to spend a night out if you’ve got a few spare pounds and you want to have a laugh without having to think too hard. There’s a warning, though: if you’re easily offended by stereotypes, don’t bother, and if you have an aversion to all things Cher and Beyoncé, I’d recommend you go and see something else – otherwise you’ll be singing Single Ladies all night.

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