Review – Worst Wedding Ever by Chris Chibnall

Worst Wedding Ever by Chris Chibnall – New Wolsey Theatre till 11th March

Everyone at sometime or other has been involved in, or attended, a nightmare family ’do’ where its all gone horribly and embarrassingly wrong. And there has been plenty of plays, films and TV sitcoms written about the subject. In that respect Chris Chibnall’s play is not new or original – but it is extremely funny – with well written characters that can be empathised with, some sharp dialogue and some nice physical humour that had the Wolsey audience verbally gasping with both pleasure and pain.

Chibnall is hot property in writing terms. He’s got a great track record behind him including ‘Life on Mars’, ‘Torchwood’ and ‘Broadchurch’ – as well as being the new writer for Dr Who. This play was premiered at Salisbury Playhouse in 2014, but has been revived by the New Wolsey and Queens, Hornchurch for another major outing.

It centres on young 30 somethings Rachel and Scott who just want a quite low key wedding with a few friends and no religious trappings. However Rachel’s mother Liz (played in best Hyacinth Bucket mode by Julia Hills) has other ideas. She proceeds to bully the poor couple into a wedding of her own making – manipulating both hapless husband Mel – a man really only interested in his dogs – recently divorced, flaky sister Alison, errant brother Andy, trendy Vicar Graeme and Alison’s ex Mike into fulfilling her ‘mother of the bride’ fantasies.

Mayhem inevitably ensues – but the play has a serious side too which focuses the second half as family rifts are explored and the role of the siblings to the parents and each other is laid bare.

Elizabeth Hopper and Nav Sidhu give the young couple a vulnerability that makes you root for them while knowing exactly how it will all pan out. Elizabeth Cadwallander is excellently waspish and insensitive as the unpredictable sister and Derek Frood totally believable as the husband who just longs to escape down the pub.

The action moves along well – the pace is good – and an added bonus is a group of three musicians who break it all up with renditions of songs appropriate to the plot, and in the second half turn up as the wedding singers.

The first half especially is often laugh out loud. The second half is a lot more serious as personal issues are explored. It is also a little long – and feels somewhat drawn out toward the end. Having said that, this as an entertaining evening you won’t be disappointed with – and although not original, the characters are well drawn and three dimensional – and the plot believable.

If you like sitcoms like ‘My Family’ and ‘Outnumbered’, or Alan Ayckbourn at his best – this is for you.

Suzanne Hawkes

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