Marriage guidance and disasters
Written by the man gave the world Broadchurch and will shortly be bringing the latest instalments in the lives of Doctor Who this is a very funny farce about the preparations for a wedding which is very much in the Ayckbourn mould – with added songs from a trio of musicians.
The problem with revivals is that theatres often use reviews from the original production – it was first staged in 2014 – on the flyers, which true then, are possibly less so now. I did not “laugh so much I almost fell out of my seat,” although to be fair I laughed quite a lot. Nor did I find it “unexpectedly moving.” But I did laugh and behind the laughter does lie pain. Ayckbourn manages to create real people whose predicament may be hilarious, but also to convey that it is also no laughing matter. Chris Chibnall has not quite managed that, but none the less the play, undeniably what is known as “a good night out,” is both well staged and performed.
In Act One Rachel and Scott, who just want a quiet register office wedding with a stint in the pub afterwards, come up against Rachel’s Mum Liz, a splendid manic performance from Julia Hills, who is determined it will be lavish, more Mother’s Big Day than the bride’s big day. Rachel succumbs and Scott has to go along with her, although Liz does downgrade her plans to having a marquee on common land outside the house, portacabin loos in the garden, and getting the guests to bring the food.
In Act Two the worms in the bud, the skeletons in the closet emerge one after the other and possibly one after too many. The mix of pleasure and pain proves awkward. there is an audible crashing of gears, and some of the set piece running gags prove a little predictable. Somebody, for instance, one knows will get locked in one of those loos for a start. However, even if it is not a falling out of one’s seat evening nor as touching as it could be, it remains a funny affair with Elisabeth Hopper and Nav Sidhu as the about to be weds surviving the disasters that befall with great aplomb.