Despite a rather rough production, the UK premier My Son’s Husband still manages to charm with camp fun and sweet sincerity.
George and Michael are going to get married tomorrow. But before they do, they have one last thing they both need to do: come out to their parents. But they, too, have more than just skeletons in their closets, in the UK premier of My Son’s Husband.
Director Raffaele Cericola translates Daniele Falleri’s Italian farce: a colourful and campy piece of comedy if there ever was one. But My Son’s Husband isn’t just some shallow and flamboyant piece of foppery. George and Michael are fairly straight forward and well observed characters that hold the entire show together through the turmoil of ironically sending up stereotypical manifestation of homophobia. Moments in My Son’s Husband also go deeper than you’d expect, with the usual positive message of gay relationships including some examination of the prejudices gay men can sometimes hold themselves. Elsewhere, what lifts My Son’s Husband from usual farcical fayre are unexpected turns and twist that keep you on your toes and take you by chortling surprise.
The comedy handles itself quite well creating the majority of My Son’s Husband’s charm. The moments of farce and physical comedy aren’t ever too silly or over the top which means you don’t tire of the high jinx too quickly. Then there’s wonderful little moments of character comedy, such as the complete surreal interjections of psychology student-cum-actress/waitress Laurie that just add an extra layer of surprise laughs. This is balanced out by each character giving a detailed a personal soliloquy giving a bit more reality and grounding to My Son’s Husband’s Pandemonium octane, giving little insights into people behind the prejudices with a certain level of affection and explanation. There’s no real villains in My Son’s Husband, but just several characters that are having issues grasping change and being true to themselves.
There are a couple of moments that My Son’s Husband could do without, such as the Shakespearian tricking-someone-into-having-sex-with-you plot device which, by modern standards, is quite creepy and uncofmrotable even in the context of comedy. And, like most comedies, the happy ending is drawn out a bit too long.
As for Cericola’s adaptation, it’s certainly fluid and organic, and Cericola has done well to make sure that little is lost in translation. If you didn’t know much better, you’d be forgiven for thinking My Son’s Husband was originally in English.
Direction & Production
Rosella d’Agostino ‘s set design in the large hall that is Theatro Technis does well to turn in into a European splash of art and colour, with a style that smacks of Pedro Amolvbadar, (a big theme in the play). The configuration of an L-shape to accommodate the two main scenes – the apartment and the cafe in the park – also works well in the ample space, giving the production a means to keep the pace going without taking time for scene changes. But this is also done without sarcificing sight line or comfortability either, making it quite an astute decision.
But it’s a real shame that My Son’s Husband suffers from some unfortunate production choices that really effect the show’s ability to keep pace and deliver comedy in the most effective way. For starters, whilst it’s great for My Son’s Husband to feature such fresh Italian talent, the problem is that comic delivery vitally relies on the ability the deliver a line without any infringements such as language barriers. A lot of the time, the pace several suffered from actors stumbling with their lines a little, or not being able to get the right inflections right. It would be very revealing to actually see the cast perform the show in Italian, as it would probably be a lot more polished and sure of itself, augmenting the comic ability of the production.
Furthermore, the pacing at many points is very messy and My Son’s Husband needs a lot of tightening up. Lines are delivered too late or too soon a lot of the time which severely stilts the overall comic flow. But thankfully, Cericola’s direction manages to get the majority of the punchlines are delivered relatively unscathed, and My Son’s Husband still has many genuinely funny comic moments regardless of its shonkiness elsewhere.
There’s also an overall sense of sincerity that carries My Son’s Husband. You smile and laugh with the show, as flawed as it can be in places, and are generally charmed by it. My Son’s Husband’s earnesty is thankfully as strong as its writing.
It’s difficult to gauge actor’s abilities when performing in a language that they’re not as familiar with, but each have some nice moments across the board. Irene Possetto delivers some wonderfully deadpan nonsense at times that is a really nice stir to Falleri’s mix of mix-ups. Roberto Benfenati does hilarious little turns as a campy gay stereotype, even if their attempts at unbridled zeal is a bit bumbling elsewhere. Tim Orsini brutish behaviour still knowingly delivers some wonderfully wry moments as the laughable Lothario of the bunch.
But its’ James Pacileo and Federico Moro that really shine as there’s a very easy and natural on-stage chemistry between them that make them very believable as a loving couple. There’s no exaggerations or needless dramas in how they portray their relationship, and together they are adorably sweet and real, providing a measured and warm antidote to the over-the-topness of the rest of My Son’s Husband’s characters.
My Son’s Husband is a show that is so funny, sweet, and sincere, that you’re able to look past what are otherwise some sizable flaws.
My Son’s Husband plays at Theatre Technis, London, NW1 1TT, until 14 February 2016. Tickets are £10 (concessions available). To book, visit www.theatrotechnis.com.