mambo italiano by Steve Galluccio, directed by Gordon McCall, with Andreas Apergis, Ellen David, Joseph Gallaccio, Suzanna Le Nir, Mary Long, Penny Mancuso and Michell Perron. Presented by David and Ed Mirvish in association with Centaur Theatre at the Elgin (189 Yonge). Runs to February 23, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $31-$71. 416-872-1212. Rating: N Rating: N
Is theatre dead? not quite. but sitting through Steve Galluccio's Mambo Italiano, a TV sitcom masquerading as a play, you'll think it is -- and you'll wish you were.The comedy wowed Montreal, then toured Quebec in a French-language version. An English production broke records at Montreal's Centaur Theatre.
Gee, maybe there's something in Quebec's drinking water.
The story concerns gay writer Angelo (Andreas Apergis), who comes out to his Italian-Canadian parents, Maria (Mary Long) and Gino (Michell Perron) and inadvertently outs his closeted lover, Nino (Joseph Gallaccio).
Before you can say, "Harvey Fierstein is a subtle actor," the two families are plotting to set their sons up with women and arguing about which son is the top and which the bottom.
Galluccio gives the parents the most amusing lines, and the performers, including Penny Mancuso as Nino's mom, make them spin, although they're forced by director Gordon McCall to speak with Italian accents so broad they sound parodic.
The younger generation have even less to play with, because the script never shows what Angelo and Nino see in each other. But Ellen David as Angelo's older single sister who lives at home cuts through her clichés nicely.
What niggles aren't the scenes that lack shape or the epiphanies that can be spotted a mile away. The main problem is that the script feels dated and overly earnest.
The play's supposed to be set in the present, but the cultural signifiers -- AIDS red ribbon flag, overarching rainbow symbol -- feel very mid-90s.