‘Big Fat’ Embraces a Family’s Riches


Second City alum Nia Vardalos gets off to a slow start but builds to a rousing comic crescendo in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” her autobiographical solo show at the Globe Playhouse.

In a coming-of-age story as candid as it is affectionate, Vardalos recounts her experiences being raised in a sprawling Greek family in the suburbs of Chicago. Vardalos’ show lasts less than an hour, part of which she squanders in a too-general and unfocused opening. Also, Vardalos tends to link her sentences with “so,” “and” and the weakly rhetorical “OK?”--distracting blips that should have been spotted and eliminated by director Madeline Cripe.

However, Vardalos has a keen ear for the ridiculous, a sharp eye for the telling detail, and the ability to amplify personal anecdote into the larger-than-life. Reveling in the idiosyncrasies of her ethnocentric clan, Vardalos recounts what it’s like to be married to “the whitest man alive,” a vegetarian in a family that believes “if you can catch it, you should eat it.” Vardalos’ hilarious description of her uptight in-laws’ first meeting with her family--complete with roistering relatives, roasting goats and a demented grandmother careening through the crowd in a little red wagon--is Bacchanalian in scope.


The evening peaks with Vardalos’ account of her Greek Orthodox wedding, which after careful winnowing has been narrowed down to only the most intimate family connections--slightly more than 400. While honeymooning in Greece, Vardalos, who has previously felt suffocated by her obdurately close-knit clan, begins to feel a new appreciation for their all-encompassing warmth and generosity, and the richness of her culture in general. It’s an epiphany worth sharing.

* “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Globe Playhouse, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood. Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 and 9:30 p.m. Ends Feb. 21. $15. (888) 566-8499. Running time: 50 minutes.