by Chloe Moss.
Hilton Islington To 3 August 2013.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 August.
Chamber drama that’s more than the sum of its parts.
This skilfully-assembled piece is enough to put anyone off marriage, or weddings, for life. The individual hells of the happy day are emphasised in the compartmentalised lives seen in six hotel-bedrooms.
Wearing a colour-coded rose, four groups of audiences view things in different order. The story, including events and sounds heard at a distance, assembles into a whole differently for each. It’s the skill of writer Chloe Moss and director Daphne Attias to ensure timings fit and that the scene can be quickly re-established to replay for another group.
There are mid-scene flurries as characters move between rooms. The effect’s like Alan Ayckbourn’s interweaved actions round a house in The Norman Conquests, or even more, his House and Garden, where two plays happen simultaneously in nearby auditoria.
I joined a group starting in the quiet order of the grandparents’ room. Gordon has apparently had a stroke and can barely move or speak in his wheelchair. Eileen (Anna Carteret, outstanding in an often fine cast) patiently cares for him, before rushing-out after a tussle with the air-conditioning. We later discover she rushes with a despairing cry into another room. Seeing that, her patient understanding and physical care for her husband acquire a new depth.
Then it’s through untidiness, disorder, last minute nerves leading to paper and ’phone messages from post-party Groom and bride, both attempting to call the whole thing off, plus flourishing liaisons among others, Mother stressing over organisation and a surprise return from her past, and the Best Man’s nerves over his speech.
Encouraged to explore the en suite bedrooms audiences find the physical detritus, the lotions, creams, tablets, contraceptives which are the physical correlatives of this strange mix of desire and ceremony.
A young child learns about adult behaviour. A Maid of Honour struggles to smoke a cigarette without the alarm noticing (a good comic time-filler). And a trainee cleaner, silent and ignored, seems to be going quietly mad in a world where corporate corridors and décor provide an alienating environment, as does the looped playing of a pastel-voiced TV ad for Hilton weddings in the bridal suite.
David (Father of the Bride): Andrew Bridgmont.
Eileen (Grandmother of the Bride): Anna Carteret.
Georgina (the Bride): Rachel Drazek.
Gordon (Grandfather of the Bride): Christopher Dunham.
Tunde (the Groom): Tas Emiabata.
Lizzie (Sister of the Bride): Sarah Hunt.
Abigail (Maid of Honour): Zoe Hunter.
Maureen (Mother of the Bride): Penelope McGhie.
Joe (Best Man): Terry O’Donovan.
Chris (Brother of the Bride): Christopher Reynolds.
Trainee Cleaner: Anna Richmond.
Kitty (Flower Girl): Nieve Dowling/Ella Havas.
Director: Daphne Attias.
Designer: Jenny Hayton.