Donít Blame It on the Stork, the latest play by local playwright Tony Callabretta, is a comedy, or at least thatís what he insists. ďAlthough it doesnít sound like much of a comedy, it is a comedy,Ē Callabretta states following a description of what sounds like a harrowing and emotionally difficult plot line.

Donít Blame It on the Stork follows the trials of protagonist Carmie after the news of her pregnancy and financial constraints provoke her to move into her Italian-Canadian parentsí upstairs duplex with her reluctant husband, Derrick. This marks, what Callabretta calls with a chuckle, ďprobably the worst decision that they could have ever made.Ē The ensuing story speaks to the clashes and limits of modern family life, based in the experiences of, but by no means limited to the appeal of the Italian-Canadian community. For its seemingly distressing plot line, Callabrettaís play draws from comedic devices to bring to light the absurdity of achieving a perfectly harmonious family life.

Presented by Pellegrini Productions and directed by Antonio diVerdis, the play depicts newlyweds Carmie and Derrickís shared re-assessment of the state of their marriage over the course of a week. While Carmieís parents, Mimmo and Bettina, readily and perhaps excessively extend their help to the newlyweds, Derrick is upset by his compromised autonomy and quick to blame cultural differences with Carmieís parents for his discomfort. Further distressed by his soon-to-be status as father, Derrick expresses his desire to move out. Carmie believes that Derrickís objecting behaviour stems from the fact that he is no longer in love with her. Following the failures of Carmieís brother, Mario, and his sister-in-law, Teresa, to mediate the situation, Carmie is compelled to call upon long-time friend and high-school sweetheart, Lou, whose entrance adds even more complications to the comedic concoction of a plot. As the play unravels, so too do the audienceís understanding of the inherently absurd yet ultimately endearing dysfunctionality of family life.

Donít Blame It on the Stork is loosely based on Callabrettaís upbringing in an Italian community in Quťbec. ďMost of the characters are Italian,Ē Callabretta explains. ď[Audiences] will recognize themselves, their families, their neighbours and whatnot. The characters are made to be very recognizable.Ē According to Callabretta, the actors and actresses of the play were cast based on the identity of the characters that they were playing ―some Italian-Canadians born in Quťbec, and some born in Italy, each compelled to draw from their respective positionalities in their Italian families. The play further picks up on themes from Callabrettaís last highly acclaimed production Damn Those Wedding Bells. The play similarly depicts the comedic dysfunctions of an Italian-Canadian family, although it focuses on the preparation for a wedding and ďthe insanity that ensuesĒ. The play received ample praise from the public and critics, enjoying two sold-out runs in Montreal are leading English theatre venues, the Centaur Theatre and the Segal Centre. While dealing with themes of the family and the cross-cultural experience, Callabretta describes the underlying basis of all his work as an earnest curiosity to imagine himself in another personís shoes, stating: ďI always wonder how people would react to a certain situation.Ē The play accordingly imagines how a grown-up daughter comes to terms with filling in her roles as a to-be mother, wife and daughter ―roles that she scrambles with throughout the narrative.

The play will mark Pellegrino Productionís first collaboration with the Leonardo da Vinci Centre, located in Saint-Leonard, Quťbec. It is anticipated that the play will enjoy an unprecedented 4 to 5 week run, the longest yet at the Leonardo da Vinci Centre. Speaking to the overarching message of the play, Callabretta states: ďIt all comes down to how you feel about a person, regardless of the circumstances you are put in. If you care about a person and really love them, youíre there for them regardless of what goes on.Ē The universality of the plot line thus offers plenty of incentive to go out and see the local theatre production. As Callabretta states with gusto: ď[the audience] will be thoroughly entertained, moved, they will think, they will feelĒ as the story touches upon universal themes of love, compromise and the humane messiness that results from it.

See Donít Blame It on the Stork at the Saputo Theatre at the Leonardo da Vinci Centre from September 15th to October 11th, 2015.