REVIEW: The Wedding (Basement Theatre)

Review by Irene Corbett

[Must See]

A Fool’s Company presents The Wedding, an uproariously funny and thrilling romp. Full of twists and reveals this show will keep you guessing until the very end and laughing in delight.

The premise is simple (or so it seems). Mother (Melissa Cameron) brings her son (Aaron Richardson) to a small village to marry the daughter of a distant cousin (Kyle Shields ) only to find there are two problems: the daughter has not arrived at the church, and there may or may not be a monster stalking the village. Emily Hurley as Maidservant and Georgie Llewellyn in many hats (as the Priest, as the Servant, and as Julio) round out the cast.

What ensues can only be seen to be believed. The troupe’s background in clowning is evident in the commitment to playfulness and a focus on characterisation rather than on individual jokes. The show is highly polished and the comedic timing is preternatural in places. Director Grace Augustine has shaped a truly memorable and satisfying show. Do try to sit in the front row so you get the most out of the performers’ physicality and precision of the action.

Costumes, quick changes, false beards, and props are all used to great effect. The sound design is particularly striking and an example of the fruitfulness of fully committing to a concept (be warned it is loud). In turn the vocal performances are excellent. Usually actors are competing either with each other or with the electronic grunt of a speaker system, not so for A Fool’s Company. Their boisterous and reverberant voices made the Basement main space seem larger and grander than it is, evoking the echoing cavity of the stone church in which the action is set.

Richardson as the Groom is deliciously sincere, Cameron’s Mother is titillating despite her sternness, Shield as both The Father and Willie the Caretaker has all the presence and force of an avalanche, and Hurley’s Maidservent provides a sly counterpoint to the grandeur of the others. Llewelyn as the Priest is the standout performance, a regular Rasputin, though the cast are clearly equally capable and present as a very cohesive group. Llewelyn brings tremendous charm and fire across all of their roles as well as offering the best stage fight seen in Tāmaki Makaurau for several years.

Laughter will come in waves, the initial laughs of delight and genuine surprise promoting secondary self-conscious giggles. It is a real credit to the performers and the direction that this rollicking show can also find moments of real pathos and genuine emotion amidst the stitch inducing plot.

The Wedding is as an engrossing and entertaining hour as you could hope to find. Make sure you get to see it.

The Wedding plays Basement Theatre the 25th to the 29th of Oct, 2022.

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