SIDMOUTH – SIDMOUTH SUMMER PLAY FESTIVAL
MANOR PAVILION THEATRE
1 hour 50 minutes – 1 interval
Manor Pavilion Theatre Box Office – 01395 514413
REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 20 AUGUST 2019
Robin Hawdon is not a name that trips off the tongue when you are thinking of good writers of comedy and farce and although his output has not been prolific he has certainly made his mark – not least with his huge hit from the 1970s, ‘The Mating Game’. ‘Perfect Wedding’ was written at the start of the Millennium and provides the 8th of 12 plays in the Summer Season at Sidmouth.
A good farce comprises a number of elements which combine to create a frantic, but perfectly lucid (if contrived) plot; lots of doors, mistaken identities, misinformation, wrong conclusions etc. ‘Perfect Wedding’ has a perfect blend of all these, as we follow the tribulations of Bill who wakes up on the morning of his wedding with a young woman in bed beside him in the honeymoon suite of a hotel – problem is he has no idea who the girl is or how he got into the bed. There follows a madcap race against time to find out what has happened before the wedding service begins.
David Janson directs with great pace and skill – it isn’t easy to get a farce right and when you have only five days to rehearse you have to know what you are doing – this director does.
As Bill, James Parkes is excellent at the perplexed and confused, and as best man, Tom, Toby Joyce offers a splendid arc of a performance from sane to psychotic as he runs around brandishing a carving knife in pursuit of whoever stole his girlfriend. Julia Main, as the bride-to-be Rachel, makes the most of the character very much stuck in the middle of the confusion, as does Jessica Kent who does wonders with a duvet and cover! Ellen Butler has the choice role of Julie, the chambermaid, and is enormously funny and Daniele Coombe has a fabulous cameo as the Daphne, Mother of the Bride – a harridan with a penchant for breaking into song and a splendid range of expressions – a perfect comedy performance.
Timing is everything to ensure the verbal and visual gags work and create the laughs and there is some wonderful precision work with doors and the aforementioned duvet – the audience lap it up.
Talking of doors – they get a lot of work and the delightfully designed set by Andrew Beckett is another with taste and elegance. How Costume Supervisor, Janet Huckle, managed to create a wedding dress which seemed to perfectly fit two rather different sized actors I am not sure, it was something of a coup!
The laughs are slightly less prevalent in the second act as the plot tries hard to eek itself out for the full length of the piece, but there is much to enjoy in this finely crafted work by the writer and well presented production by the on and off stage Company.
A well-plotted and very funny production. Great fun!
BILL – JAMES PARKES
TOM – TOBY JOYCE
JULIE – ELLEN BUTLER
JUDY – JESSICA KENT
RACHEL – JULIA MAIN
DAPHNE – DANIELE COOMBE
WRITER – ROBIN HAWDON
DIRECTOR – DAVID JANSON
DESIGN – ANDREW BECKETT
LIGHTING & SOUND OPERATION & DESIGN – STAGE TECHNICAL SERVICES LTD.
COTUME SUPERVISOR – JANET HUCKLE
SEASON PRODUCERS – PAUL TAYLOR-MILLS, STUART BURROWS, JONNY CLINES