Wedding of the Year

Dates and Venue 22 February – 15 March 2008 @ 8 pm | Metro Theatre 1370 SW Marine Dr Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

In its 45th season,The Metropolitan Cooperative Theatre Society's 430th production brings laughter and entertainment to Vancouver audiences, particularly the community it serves in Southwest Vancouver.

Yorkshire-born playwright and actor, Norman Robbins, better known as "Dame", a role he played for over 20 years on TV, film and stage, comes up with a comedy dealing with obesity in women. He was inspired to write this play when, as a young amaeur actor, his co-actor, a large young lady bemoaned the fact that no play had ever been written about a fat girl. Thus came the idea for this play.

In his notes, Director Don Glossop talks about the setting of the play, "Northern England, where people tend to be blunt and honest." True enough, there are no euphemisms in this play, particularly in the mouth of snoopy neighbour, Peggy Ramskill (Michelle Collier), who doesn't know how to hold her tongue. If you're fat, she calls you "fat" with no apologies. Michelle, by the way, played the part quite convincingly as the unlikeable neighbour.

The storyline goes like this: With a local paper announcing a competition for "The Wedding of the Year" whereby the lucky winners get an all expenses paid wedding with a honeymoon in Paris and 200 pounds spending money. Peggy is convinced that her daughter will win the prize, and as a challenge, Frank Edwards (Dwayne Campbell), Alison's uncle, thinks otherwise. True enough, his niece, Alison Murchison (Michelle Clarke), is "fat", but he wants to prove that she can win the prize. And so, the fun begins...

This is a delightful comedy, and overall, the actors did quite well in delivering their lines, particularly with that northern English twang. I especially enjoyed Sue Sparlin's acting. Her punchline timing was excellent and her voice projection was just right. I remember enjoying her performance in Cash on Delivery.

Judy McLellan (Ethel Murchinson) played her role as the understanding mother quite well, very natural in her speech. Martin Carr (Walter Thornton) needs to enunciate more. He was drawling, and I had the impression that he had a few drinks before the show.

Dwayne Campbell (Frank Edwards) said his lines automatically, as though he was parroting them. I think he should listen more and react to the other actors' speeches, rather than just saying the lines. Michelle Clarke (Alison Murchinson) had the physical qualification for the part, but I felt she needed to project both her personality and voice more.

Christine Egerton-Ball and Taylor Stutchbury as the Murchison aunts were funny, and truly broke the ice when they made their entrance with their proverbial one-liners. Upto this point, the play dragged a bit with so much dialogue, but the audience woke up with the entrance of these two characters. Chris Walters (Melvyn Thornton) played his part well as the clumsy fiancee, but needs to work on voice volume. George Koutsos (Harry Elphinstone) as the dressmaker gave a convincing performance as a suspected gay person.

There was one thing that made me feel (and perhaps, some other audience members) that something was lacking at the end of the play. The audience expected Alison to wear her wedding dress, but she never did. If I were the playwright, I would have added this little comic scene of how it would look on her.

The living-room set by Kathleen Hilton was superb. This is one feature in Metro I admire the most: their set designs. However, I felt, during this matinee performance, that the timing in lighting and sound was off, especially after curtain call; the audience is left in darkness for almost a minute before the music and houselights come up.

Click here to see a trailer of the play: Wedding of the Year.

© 2008 Ed Farolan