In an overly-familiar setting of a dysfunctional family leading up to a wedding, where everything that can go wrong often does go wrong, it does so to extreme proportions and comedic effect in Worst Wedding Ever, now touring at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich.
The pitch for the play, as on the New Wolsey Theatre’s webpage, is as follows:
Rachel and Scott are getting married. They are also buying a house together. But when the house price goes up, their plans for a dream wedding may have to be downsized.
Rachel’s mother however, has other ideas. What if the family could join forces and make it a wedding to be proud of? With a marquee in the back garden, the pub band and two fully-functioning portable loos, surely the day will pass without a hitch?
Although the play was a farce, and very enjoyable, it could be viewed by some as trying to hard to be funny. There were definitely some welcome slapstick moments, and while it covered all the bases and stereotypes for all age groups, it felt as though there was almost too much coverage with the characters, with nothing left to the imagination.
There is the daughter, Rachel, and her soon-to-be husband Scott who deals with issues using mindfulness breathing techniques; the wise father with a plot-twisting secret; Rachel’s mother who survived from a terminal illness; the annoying and violent neighbours who crash the wedding; the ‘depressed’ brother who returns home on the day of the wedding and brings his problems with him; the drunk sister and her soon to be ex-husband (coincidentally the lead guitarist and vocalist of the band we see through the play); the not-all-he-seems-to-be vicar; and the family dogs that resemble a pack of wolves.
While all these individual storylines are central to the point of the play, sometimes elements of the production seemed to detract away from the main story – the music being a key example.
It felt like the band were there merely as a time filler and a non-functional cutscene while the scenery was changed by backstage Theatre staff. The presence of the band, and thus the sister’s husband singing and playing guitar, could’ve been developed into something so much more than it was – maybe the bride, groom and family visiting a local pub where the band is playing, and everything kicking off between the sister and her husband while the gig is happening.
The lead vocalist/guitarist’s various entrances and antics on stage helped to lighten the mood a bit between scenes, ensuring the audience had a great night out, and even developed into its own comedy sketch on where he was going to appear next.
But the music itself didn’t really serve a purpose in the play. If the band and their performances were there within the context of the play, as a theatrical ‘aside’ to show that the sister’s husband was indeed a member of a band, then this wasn’t clearly explained to the audience, save for the description on the Theatre’s website. It wasn’t explicit that these performances could, in fact, be gigs and an essential part of the story – and this assumed context was therefore the opinion of this reviewer.
The attention to detail in the set design was impressive – garden details included a sand pit, terrace, shed and a gate to an alley beside the house.
Although we never really saw any interior scenes in the play (save for the shopping trip to John Lewis at the start of the play), the lounge, which could often be seen through the patio door on the terrace, was also lavishly decorated – the roses on the wallpaper, a sideboard and lamp, and general living room furniture.
The exterior details of the house were well-thought out as well: brick construction, wooden garden fences with panels missing, patterned windows, tiled roof and drain pipes; and the ceiling light shining through the bedroom curtains as the bride-to-be tried on her sister’s wedding dress (“something old, something new” – although sadly this significance was never touched upon in the script).
Is it worth going to see?
Overall, it was a fantastic play, with something in there for the whole family, providing many laughs for all age groups. While the second half started out slower than the first half, the play eventually kicked into gear and ended on a happy note. Worst Wedding Ever never strayed too far from the simple story of the dysfunctional family of the bride-to-be, and played through all the emotions of happiness, sadness and stress leading up to a wedding – all of which could be very relatable to much of the audience.
As a final note, it could be said that the play itself shows us that while the worst of life’s experiences can often take a toll on our lives, life goes on and ‘everything will be alright on the night’ – and, one day, we may even be able to look back on our lives and laugh about it all.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening, not to be missed.
The official trailer for the play can be viewed below: