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My big fat Italian comedy

by Bashir Rifai September 22, 2015
My big fat Italian comedy

Reminiscent of My Big Fat Greek Wedding or the exact same formula?

Don’t Blame It on the Stork is a comedy play directed by Antonio DiVerdis and written by native Montrealer Tony Calabretta, who also stars in the play. The narrative follows a Montreal-Italian family whose pregnant daughter Carmie, played by Nadia Verrucci, and her non-Italian husband Derrick, played by Shawn Campbell, attempt to navigate through their cultural differences and deal with day-to-day life when they move into the duplex of the daughter’s intrusive Italian family.

Cocomello and Tavarone playing off each other on stage.

Cocomello and Tavarone playing off each other on stage.

The play about “love, lies and family ties” has its funny and heartfelt moments and the actors deliver solid performances across the board. Comedically, Lou, the simpleton high-school sweetheart of Carmie and family friend with a heart of gold, played by Calabretta, and Mimmo, the patriarch of the family, played by Dino Tavarone, steal the show. The rest of the cast plays a slightly more dramatic role. Former Concordia student Guido Cocomello plays Carmie’s older brother Mario, the voice of reason within the family. That’s a waste, considering that other than being an actor, Guido is also an accomplished stand-up comedian.

As for the plot, the play takes on the issue of cultural differences in a surprisingly generic way. While that might make it more relatable to a general audience, especially in a multicultural city like Montreal where there are a number of different communities in which the family takes a more central—or intrusive—role, the play doesn’t capitalize on any one aspect that might differentiate it from the other ways this very same story has been told.

A taste of the Montreal-Italian family’s dynamic.

A taste of the Montreal-Italian family’s dynamic.

An example of this is readily available when one realizes while this family is described as a “Montreal-Italian family,” there is very little that distinguishes them as Montrealers other than a single reference to a Jean Coutu pharmacy. The plot could just as easily have taken place in Chicago, which incidentally is where the hugely successful romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding was set. Speaking of that film, for those of you who haven’t seen it, the plot tells more or less the same story. As a matter of fact, Mimmo and Gus (the patriarch from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) share a similar obsession with a cleaning product, Javex and Windex respectively, believing that they can be used for just about anything. A recurring—emphasis on recurring—joke that got a considerable
reaction from the audience throughout the play.

Pregnant and navigating an intrusive family with inherent cultural differences.

Pregnant and navigating an intrusive family with inherent cultural differences.

As previously mentioned, Don’t Blame it on the Stork certainly has its moments and the actors do a good enough job in getting the audience to invest in the characters. That being said, the play falls short in standing out when communicating a story that has been told many times over, to the point that it felt like a sitcom at some points. As actor, playwright, producer and film critic Brian Prisco put it in his review of Safe House, “there are no new stories, just new ways to tell them. What that means is that you should be building a unique world and characters around the basic spine of a well-developed mythos. That doesn’t mean that you take a story you know and change four elements.”

Don’t Blame It on the Stork will be showing at Leonardo da Vinci Centre until Oct. 11. Tickets range from $34.50 to $52.50.

*A previous version of the article referred to Derrick (Carmie’s husband) as Caucasian; he is described as non-Italian in the latest version.

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