My Big Gay Italian Wedding (Above The Stag)

Posted on November 18, 2011

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______ had warned me in advance that ‘My Big Gay Italian Wedding‘ was not “high class theatre, dear”. He didn’t lie. MBGIW is crass, loud, borderline offensive and at times, hilariously funny – kinda like watching “The Only Was Is Essex” I guess.

The scene is set from the moment the bell rings in the Stag pub by a queen so OTT he makes ‘The Fifth Element‘s Ruby Rhod look like Professor Snape. Every step of the way up to the theatre, you are greeted by a parade of Italian caricatures so grotesque you really have no excuse not to realise you’re in for a farce.

I never want to see Cassandra Harris scratching her **** ever again

The set design & costumes are all in comic-book style bright primary colours (red, white & green – just in case you forgot this is about an Italian family). Some girls do end up literally wearing the Italian flag as dresses. There really is nothing subtle going on here.

The main plot is a just a pretext really. Two gay boys (Anthony & Andrew) want to get married, but Anthony’s Italian mother sets a series of obstacles they must overcome in order to get her blessing (they must get Father Rosalia, a Catholic priest, to do the ceremony and Andrew’s estranged mother must fly up from Florida).

There are some nice touches in the text, and not from places I expected…

For starters, in a play about two gay men, I didn’t expect the best dialogue and performances to come from the ‘greek chorus’ (pardon the mixed racial metaphor) of lesbians. I especially want to highlight the work of Lillie Collier, who takes a supporting role and completely inhabits it. She is hilarious to watch, and her performance is the most consistent of the show (some of the cast seem to dip in and out of their accents & characters a bit at time). Each of the lesbian pack (flock, clutch – what’s the collective noun for lesbians? A snatch?) create distinct characters… and I never want to see Cassandra Harris scratching her **** ever again, as hilarious as it was.

This is a fringe show, and it has all the strengths and weaknesses that go with that. Some of the characters are mere cyphers and some seem borrowed wholesale from other shows (you could replace the wedding planner Maurizio with ‘Will & Grace‘s Beverley Leslie without missing a beat).

The comedy is at its best when it’s including the audience (there is no fourth wall in this show, so be warned – especially if you’re sitting in the front row, you’re in for some comic abuse).

On that note too – the audience is one of the most diverse I’ve seen at Above The Stag. I’d love to know what an actual Italian would think of the play – offensive or hilarious?!

I walked in expecting to hate it, but ended up enjoying myself a lot more than I care to admit. It’s utterly ridiculous and it knows it.

Rating: Broad, colourful & off-colour at the same time, crass & trashy. This show is more like me than I care to admit.

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Posted in: Fringe, Play