A BRIDPORT garden with a bit of waste land over the wall for a marquee – what better place to create an unforgettable wedding?
It’s where Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall lives, so he knows all about life in West Dorset with the seashore just down the road. He made his name with his Jurassic Coast TV murder mystery saga, now in its third series.
Worst Wedding Ever, his first play, is a very different kettle of confetti. Its premiere at Salisbury Playhouse in 2014 packed the theatre, and delighted audiences with hilarious situations and magic realist musicians.
We didn’t know how good Chris was at comedy! So the speedy revival of the play originally commissioned by Salisbury Playhouse and directed by Gareth Machin, is well deserved, packing them in all over again and on stage until 25th February.
According to the script, if you are part of a family you must expect the mayhem and misery of dysfunctionality. So when the “sensible” sister, Rachel, realises that the cost of a big wedding is insupportable, she and her fiance Scott decide on a small do just for close friends and family.
But that is NOT what mother Liz has in mind at all. And what Liz says, goes.
With sparkling dialogue, bitchy revelations, drugged Ridgebacks, Portaloo with a stuck door, band led by sister’s ex-husband and rows with the neighbours, this is a laugh-out-loud a minute show … for most of the minutes, anyway. Just a couple of shocks are thrown in to bring the story crashing home from farce to painful reality.
This new cast could not be bettered. Julia Hills convincingly treads the tightrope as Liz, with Elisabeth Hopper and Nav Sidhu as the “happy” couple. Derek Frood adds a new dimension to father Mel, his mellifluous voice hiding his fears.
Kieran Hill’s Graeme the rev is a hilarious look at a man of god in a time of mammon, and Elizabeth Cadwallader stops the show as the deeply damaged sister Alison. I still have problems with the odious Andy, who doesn’t seem to have the redeeming charm he would need, but Ben Callon does it well.
And the band – Lloyd Gorman, Dan Smith and Chris Talman – not only crop up on stage in unlikely moments, but also play in the bar beforehand. And this wedding band is called Mike and the Melbury Osmonds.
Don’t miss it, and if you loved it before you’ll love it even more second time round.
After Salisbury, Worst Wedding Ever goes to the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from Wednesday 1st to Saturday 11th March, and Queens Theatre Hornchurch from Wednesday 15th March to Saturday 1st April.