Physical TheatreReviewSouth East

The Wedding – New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Creator: Amit Lahav and The Company
Associate Director: Rich Rusk
Original Music: Dave Price
Reviewer Glen Pearce

Those familiar with Gecko’s work will know that there is rarely such a thing as a finished work, with director Amit Lahav constantly evolving and reviewing pieces. It was, therefore, inevitable that the work in progress showing of their latest piece, The Wedding, shared at last year’s Pulse Festival would undergo radical change before its official premiere.

The work in progress was an accomplished work in itself but, after nearly a year’s work, the piece has metamorphosed into the crowning achievement in an already glittering cannon of work.

Movement, clowning, mime, dance, sound and lighting are melded seamlessly to create 85 minutes of heart-pounding drama.

Like previous incarnations of the company’s work, interpretation of narrative is left for the audience to form their own conclusion. That said though, The Wedding arguably gives the strongest signposting of any of Gecko’s work to date. Instead of the narrow view of conventional matrimony, here we are offered a chance to reflect on the key life events that we are married to. From birth, social expectation to being married to our jobs, the wedding dress becomes a symbol of conformity and ultimately rebellion against the establishment.

Ultimately, the interpretation of meaning is secondary. Whatever individual plot one overlays, one can’t help being drawn in by the compelling physicality and visuals. The company create a haunting, evocative world. The eye is drawn from one vivid scene to the other, with inventive staging and a wry sense of humour that drives the narrative forward. A child’s flume becomes a birth canal, halogen heaters turn into follow spots and a TARDIS-like suitcase an echo of Mother Courage’s Wagon. All the staging underpinned by a faultless ensemble, drilled in precision movement fuelled with deep emotional impact.

Lahav’s creation, with Associate Direction from Rich Rusk, paces the action well, with only a momentary sense of repetition in the third quarter. It’s that section, set in a stressful office, that reminds us of earlier Gecko piece, The Institute, and while there is a knowing sense of company continuity, it lurches perilously close to retreading old ground.

Thankfully it’s a minor niggle that is easily forgiven given the accomplishment of the whole. The Wedding becomes a testament to the power of the marriage of numerous theatrical arts. Rhys Jarman’s adaptable set sculpturally lit by Joe Hornsby, Dave Price’s original score delivered skillfully via Jonathan Everett’s surround sound audio mix.

By the time the nine-strong ensemble reach the tribal, rhythmic finale, it’s impossible not to find your feet tapping along. As the lights fade and the audience erupts into spontaneous applause it’s clear this matrimonial masterpiece has a long and prosperous future ahead of it.

Runs until 22 April 2017 and tours| Image: Rich Rusk

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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