Reviewer: Niall Harman
After their international success with the Faulty Towers Dining Experience, the Interactive Theatre bring their newer vehicleThe Wedding Reception back to Brighton Fringe. The evening starts slowly as the guests gather at a bar while a panicked wedding planner tries to set up tables next door. Ricky, the best man (Oliver Harrison), takes bets on how long the groom’s speech will be. The mother of the bride (Suzanna Hughes) goes around offering sweets and insisting that today is her special day.
The Wedding Reception is an interactive dining experience, wherein the audience become immersed in a couple’s big day and are served a three-course meal while being entertained by a cast of four playing various members of the wedding party, doubling up on roles.
The main couple – imaginatively named Will and Kate – remain hidden from the audience for some time. The reason becomes apparent as they are played by the very same actors who played a moody waitress (Katie Cooper) and the inept wedding planner (Jonathon Saunders) just minutes before.
Will and Kate opted to invite no one to the ceremony itself, so her mother insisted that the reception be a big party to make up for it. Her husband (also played by Harrison) rushes around attempting to take selfies with the assembled crowd. A plethora of Elton John songs play in the background.
It makes for quite an entertaining evening, but two hours of this farce, much of it improvised, was more than enough. Each of the characters, from a random posh aunty to the brash mother-of-the-bride faffing around and making the day all about her, are stereotypes. This becomes quite tiring after a while, even with the breaks for food. It is a very clever idea, but one that is stretched a bit too thin here. Despite some big laughs, The Wedding Reception is very well performed, but it has a hackneyed plotline that is quite predictable.
Now to the most important aspect of the evening: the food. Starter featured some very fancy bread, ricotta and golden beetroot. Main course was some slightly overdone chicken, green beans and potatoes done in a way this reviewer has never seen before, but then he doesn’t often frequent posh venues such as this. The wedding cake for dessert is not particularly inspiring, but at least they steered clear of traditional fruit cake. In all, the food isn’t particularly exciting, but the crowd are here to be more entertained rather than be treated to fine food.
While the cast are committed and obviously talented, and the premise a solid one, it just feels as if something is missing. After some laughs and some decent enough food, the evening ends with an imaginatively choreographed dance from the cast. A word of warning, if you don’t like being dragged up to dance, it would be best to make for the door as soon as this starts, as you will be made to dance.
Runs at Brighton Fringe 7, 13 and 14 May 2016 before touring| Image: Alex Brenner