My Big Fat Freak Wedding

The Wedding Play is a lot like the gigantic cake that occupies a chunk of the stage during the first act: impossible to ignore, very sweet, and a bit too much. There are slices of great laughs and good performances, but digesting the whole course is a lengthy and sometimes tedious endeavor. During the two-hour play, you’re constantly reminded that a.) weddings make people crazy and b.) it’s hard to tell twins apart. By the time intermission rolls around, it’s a bit jarring to realize you’re only halfway done.

The plot centers on the Desario family on the day of daughter Sarah’s wedding. Mom and Dad seem on the verge of either insanity or homicide, while twins/maids-of-honor Clara and Zoe (both Lindsay Wolf) work through budding romances. Murphy’s law ensues with an absent groom, the wrong cake, and a “quintet” that’s actually a punk rock band (offering an amusingly lowbrow original song in the second act by Ryan Dowd).

Amid the chaos, Clara's date, Daniel (Joseph Mathers), has arrived early. It’s their first meeting, as the “couple” has shared an Internet courtship over the last 11 months. Daniel’s sex-crazed friend, Nick (Michael Mraz, bearing a strong resemblance to Sean William Scott of several sex-crazed teen flicks) has tagged along and quickly heats things up with Zoe.

Zoe despises Daniel and tries to derail his relationship with Clara at every turn. This particular conflict drags on and on until a fairly unsurprising twist comes in the second act. It doesn’t help that Zoe’s unabashed wickedness and Clara’s cavity-inducing sweetness are so exaggerated, they grow a bit stale by the end of the show.

With its predictable characters, the only way the play can shock you is by piling on irrational twists and coincidences. By the end, many characters make decisions that betray their established personalities.

The cast acts so hyper (the first act contains lots of running and yelling), it seems like they’ve mainlined Red Bull. Fortunately, both Mathers and Corey Ann Haydu as the bride ground the show with performances that balance comic prowess with restraint. As just about everything has hit the fan, Haydu has a believable breakdown and a scowl that completely deserves the frozen reaction it elicits. And when Daniel faces Clara’s bizarre attempts at seduction – think lots of writhing and a squeaky Marilyn Monroe impression – his contorted face and confused exclamation (“I mean this as kindly, and sweetly as possible. What the [expletive] is wrong with you?”) is like a breath of fresh air.

Mark Souza is also in good form as the narrator and several other roles. With a voice made for action movie trailers, almost everything out of his mouth is hilarious. Unfortunately, quoting a few gems would spoil some of the show’s twists.

Playwright Brian MacInnis Smallwood, who penned last year’s very funny 12th Night of the Living Dead, has a knack for snappy one-liners and quirky comedy. In this sense, The Wedding Play pans out like a sitcom. But most sitcoms wrap in 30 minutes for a reason: there’s only so much quirkiness and perkiness a person can take.

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