A kiss is just a kiss but in Steve Galluccio’s overrated romantic farce, In Piazza San Domenico, a lip lock has toxic consequences. Galluccio’s play, held over at the Centaur until November 15, is a crowd pleaser in the same way that mindless B-movies have a following. The playwright claims Feydeau as an inspiration, but Feydeau enlarged human foibles; Galluccio combines the improbable with the predictable, then exploits human nature in crude and unrealistic fashion. The plot is set in motion when Carmelina, a hot-blooded Italian beauty, (Christina Broccoloni) catches her studly fiancée, Guido (Guido Comello) stealing a kiss from the blowsy town tart, Mafalda, (Mara Lalli). Out of revenge she dumps Guido in favour of the village idiot, Severino, (Carl Alacchi), and proposes to marry him instead. Some performers like Ellen David and Vittorio Rossi are better than the material. A subplot that involves the romance between Carmelina’s widowed mother, Isabella, (David) and a Pasquale, (Rossi) a door-to-door vegetable salesman is touching, funny and effective - the best thing about the show. All the other characters are caricatures, particularly Jocelyne Zucco and Michel Perron, who mug their way through their parts as a dysfunctional married couple.
The laughs are there all right, but they’re cheap – just like the song and dance routine that ends the show. John C. Dinning overdesigned the scenery, but Roy Surette gets full marks for directing traffic through the Piazza with aplomb.