When it comes to Big Love, less is definitely more

Veronica Appia


I could love Big Love, if it was a little less…big.

Take ancient Greek tragedy, mix it with modern feminism and add a pinch of farce. Ta-da! You get an overflowing pot of exaggeration – and a lengthy one at that.

I may be picking on the playwright, but this text did not quite win me over. I thought at some point connections could be made to relevant current issues and today's rape culture, but when push comes to shove, the play's really not that deep.  And it could definitely benefit from being brought to the chopping block. Chop, chop.

Inspired by Aeschylus’ The Suppliants, Big Love (written by Charles L. Mee) is about 50 brides who escape from Greece and arrive in Italy, fleeing from their cousins whom they are betrothed to marry. When their suitors find them taking refuge at the house of a wealthy Italian family, they continue to force them into marriage. And just like you would expect from a Greek tragedy, this massive wedding turns out to be little more red than white.

But unlike most Greek bloodbaths, this one begins with a little bit of not-so-casual twerking – compliments to director Zack Russell for giving this modern adaptation some uber-contemporary twists.

Choreographer Lisa Auguste follows suit with some interesting contemporary dance choices, including our Greek suitors performing Magic Mike-like routines.

There are a lot of great bits in the show, with notable performances by Tala Nazzal and Rosie Callaghan. Nazzal makes a fabulous drunk and disturbed Bella, stumbling over her thoughts and the girls simultaneously, and Callaghan is a convincingly frustrating Olympia, torn between the oozing feminism that surrounds her and her desire to be a little bit submissive.

Big Love requires some polishing and the script needs work, but the show will definitely manage to squeeze some laughs out of you. After all, it does have a wildly talented and multifaceted cast to carry it through.

Big Love is running until July 10 at The Annex Theatre. For more information, visit www.fringetoronto.com