Review by Krista Power, Photos by Barry Wojciechowski

The Canadian premier of Moose on the Loose by Dina Morrone opened to a patriotic crowd on Friday, April 10 at Magnus Theatre. As the Canadian national anthem began and the lights went dim, all of the patrons around me stood and some began to sing along with the familiar and comforting words. When it came to an end, a moose entered…yes, a moose.

The title of the play indicates that the moose may be a big character in the production but he actually fades into the background after you meet the members of the Tappino family. I should probably mention that I am not Italian; my big crazy family is from Newfoundland so I was interested in seeing this production about a big Italian family in Way Up Bay (sound like a familiar city to you?). Not being Italian or knowing Italian traditions is not a requirement in the enjoyment of this production. If you have even one slightly odd family member you will be able to relate.

The Tappino family goes through many changes over the years: immigration, growing children, teenage years, adult children leaving home. You get a glimpse of this family when their children are grown up during what can only be described as a major event—a moose stuck in their neighbour’s fence. The antics and commentary are hilarious. I laughed BIG at many of the scenes where the interactions of the characters drew me in.

The parents of the Tappino family stole the show for me; Giuseppe, played by Paul Amato, and Maria, played by Viviana Zarrillo, had superb performances. Their physical comedy in addition to their exaggerated accents made them likable characters. Giuseppe’s inability to pronounce his grandson’s name had me giggling even after the play was over and Maria’s antics produced belly splitting laughter—everyone can relate to an overreacting mom and a dad with blinders on.

Danny Johnson was stellar in his portrayal of Darryl who tries to blend into the background with no success. His awkward personality and subtle comedy was excellent and director Mario Crudo did a superb job in making him look and seem incredibly out of place in this crazy Italian family. Darryl’s spirited commentary towards the end of the play was endearing and one could see why Carmela would choose him as her husband.

Moose on the Loose is not all laughs; there are some quieter moments, some serious commentaries on what it means to come to a new country and start a new life. There is also a wonderful comforting feeling that ensues from the Tappino family—as much as they are all a bit much and a little bit crazy, they love each other like mad and will be there to support each other faithfully. In life, this is all any family can ask for, Italian or otherwise.

So call your brother, your crazy aunt or take your Nona to see Moose on the Loose. You will laugh and enjoy the spirit of family. Once again Magnus Theatre showcases a spirited script in a wonderful venue with the support of an incredible cast.

Moose on the Loose is on stage at Magnus Theatre until April 25.