Perfect Wedding - Review

Review by Philip Hawkins
Perfect Wedding, a comedy by Robin Hawdon. Image of rings and flowers.
Perfect Wedding

Directed by Simon Reader
Performed at The Studio, September 2015

In a small studio theatre space, with no curtains or even much distance between the audience and the acting space you can't help but examine the set as you sit and wait for the play to start. And here it was clear that a lot of effort had been put into creating a professional construction with great, small details and a co-ordinated scheme that really evokes the boutique hotel setting. And of course there were lots of doors.

Doors (and the ins and outs through them) are one of the staples of the comedy farce genre, along with mistaken identities. There's plenty of that too.

The lack of curtain certainly revealed one thing though, the dedication to authenticity of the cast. As the lead man entered the stage to get into starting positions he was in a robe which came off to briefly reveal what seemed to be a bare bum before he hopped under the bed covers and the lights came up for the play to begin. You have to admire that dedication, I know many amateur actors who wouldn't have gone that far but it would have made the character pulling on his underwear a few minutes later very odd if he had already be wearing some.

The opening of the play wasn't rushed, and the time we spent watching Greg Potter's Bill slowly and naturally stir from sleep only enhanced the comedy from his eventual reaction (some great facial expressions) upon finding a woman, one who was not his fiancée, beside him in the bed on the day of his wedding.

That woman was the fabulously serene Judy, played by Gemma Quinn, who was much more at ease with the situation they found themselves in than Bill. Throughout the play Gemma successfully navigates her character's transition from this calm attitude to the reveal of her true feelings about the night before and for Bill, in the latter half of the play

The comedy high-lights of this production were best-man and unfortunate boyfriend of Judy (Yes that same Judy who just woke up next to Bill in a hotel room) Tom, played by Richard Kemp Luck and also the ditzy, often confused Chambermaid with crazy hair and unique fashion choices, Julie -played by Katherine Johnson. Richard's Characterisation of Tom was spot on and really came across as a fully formed, complex person... and a very funny one at that. From bewildered confusion to building of furious anger it was all done in a natural style that maintained the comedy without making it pantomime.

Katherine deployed a multitude of versatile facial expressions and delivered lines in a style that got laughs every time. Individually these two characters were very funny; in scenes together they were hilarious.

Opposite all these crazy characters and awkward situations spiralling increasingly out of control was the only 'straight-man' (well woman) character in the play, Bride-to-be Rachel - played by Sara Talbot-Ashby. Her slightly stern, annoyed and demanding attitude will probably be familiar to anyone, of either gender, who has been stressed on their wedding day, worrying that things won't be ready in time, and Sara did a good job of conveying this state of mind to the audience.

The cast is rounded out by the stereotypical interfering mother-of-the-bride played by Linda Potter.

It's a cast that work well together throughout especially when it comes to the timing of their lines for comic impact.

Talking of timing, back to those doors. The direction and choreography of the movements between these are always important in farces, near misses when people walk in just at the moment someone else has walked out, hiding between open doors and wall and, my favourite in this production, the moment when Tom and Judy both exit to the hallway from two separate rooms, see each and quickly dash back inside with either panicked (Judy) or confused (Tom) looks on their faces.

The one time all this coming and going and near misses didn't really work was when Bill dives behind a sofa to not be seen by Rachel entering the room but the place he dived would have been in direct eye-line of Rachel as she enters. This is a drawback of the small, confined space though and it's hard to see what other options they had given these limitations.

The sound and lighting were perfectly understated. This wasn't a play that needed dramatic technical effects and keeping it simple worked in its favour.

Overall it was a very enjoyable production with several laugh-out-loud moments. The cast, Director and crew should congratulate themselves on a job well done and an audience thoroughly entertained.