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A review by James Buxton for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Paul Taylor-Mills & Lillie Collier present

 

My Big Gay Italian Wedding

 

 

Written by Anthony J. Wilkinson

 

Directed by Paul Taylor-Mills

 

Designed by Andrew Beckett

 

Choreography by Jodie-Lee Wilde

 

Lighting by Richard Lambert

 

Above the Stag

 

1 Nov – 19 Nov 2011

 

 

Prepare for a wedding like no other, this hysterical send up of every gay stereotype in the book will have you aching with laughter. You've been invited to Anthony (Benjamin Vivian- Jones) and Andrew's (Robert Hannouch) big day, the only thing is, their friend, Gregorio (Matthew Barksby) has a secret, that could blow the whole thing sky high and the wedding organizer, Maurizio (Andrew Beckett) is a lecherous grease ball who’s got to be the centre of attention. How will it end? Well, head to Above the Stag and you'll found out.

My Big Italian Wedding wasa runaway success off Broadway, where it enjoyed a 4 year run in New York. Fresh from its triumphant European premiere at Edinburgh, the congregation now joins us in London, twice as vulgar and ten times more inappropriate, just don't go and see this show if you're easily offended!

A word like outrageous, just can't do justice to My Big Gay Italian Wedding, here, any taboo you can think of is broken and left violated on the red, white and green set. In what resembles a Pizzeria, Wilkinson's characters battle it out with typical Italian zeal, except instead of arguing over their daughter, Maria (Ceris Hine) getting married, Joseph (Paul Easom) and Angela (Julie Ross) are fighting about Anthony's betrothal to Andrew. Easom is superb as Paul, the bevested, beer swilling dad, who cares more about his bets than his son's wedding. Easom wouldn't look out of place on the set of the Sopranos, as he mops his brow and pulls his best sneer. He also doubles up as Father Rosalia, a lecherous priest who has an unnatural fondness for his altar boys. Altering his thick, Italian, “Nu Yoik” accent to a high, saccharine one, he provides much mirth in both roles.   Benjamin Vivian- Jones as Anthony is the whining bride to Robert Hannouch's earnest, Andrew, and their relationship is as amusing as it is clichéd.  Beckett, as Maurizio, the wedding designer from hell is hilarious. More of a queen than either of the grooms, he hops about the stage in a white suit and oversized sunglasses leaping about like a gay version of Fred Astaire on ecstasy. Nuzzling his head into a pair of breasts, squeezing crotches and causing general havoc, Beckett is absurdly amusing, perhaps enjoying himself a little too much! Matthew Barksby as Gregorio, Andrew's best man, is hilariously over the top. Modelling his quiff on Cameron Diaz in, There's Something About Mary, this Guido fully sends up the gay Latino stereotype, with his finger clicking, Valley girl attitude. Imagine a cross between Jennifer Lopez and Perez Hilton and you're somewhere close.

Funnily enough, the women in the play are more masculine than the men. Julia Ross as Angela, plays the overbearing Italian mother with great gusto, fanning her nether regions and voicing her endless worries. For the other female relatives and friends, imagine a lesbian version of Grease, and you are halfway there to the bubble gum swagger and bitchy street girl dynamic of Lucia (Grace O'Malley), Connie (Lillie Collier), Rodney ( Rebecca Hickey) and Frankie (Cassandra Harris). A street wise gang of lesbians who are best friends with the grooms; they spend most their time posing in their heels, painting their nails and slagging each other off with catty insults, involving members of the audience in their bitchy squabbles.

 

 

 

 

My Big Gay Italian Wedding is a raucous show that seems more of a party than a play. There are some side splittingly funny moments, such as when Rodney ( Rebecca Hickey) pretending to be Andrew's mother collapses on the floor in a drunken stupor, or Frankie (Cassandra Harris) shoves a wig down her pants while she furiously masturbates, which elevates the show from a sordid, circus of sex jokes and crude innuendos to laugh out loud entertainment.  With a pumping soundtrack of Beyonce and other Pop hits, alongside an excellent cast of overexcited queens and princesses, this production is sure to invoke a strong response from the audience. Like Marmite, you'll either love it or hate it - just make sure you leave all your inhibitions at the door.

 

 
Above The Stag
15 Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DD
Tickets £15
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
7.30 pm
(6 pm on Sundays – no Monday performances)
http://www.abovethestag.com/page3.html
 
 

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