Sunday, 20 June 2021

'Elephant in the groom' farce is an express train ride on steroids

'Elephant in the groom' farce is an express train ride on steroids

Perfect Wedding | Mill At Sonning | Thursday, September 28

IT’S the morning of your wedding day, you wake up with a stinking hangover and realise there is a gorgeous naked woman beside you in the bed — and it’s not your wife to be.

What a cracking start to Robin Hawdon’s excellent farce, Perfect Wedding — an express train ride on steroids with added booster rockets. This is right in the Mill’s zone and few do it better.

The vast majority of farces start with plans for deceitful sex which usually get thwarted. Not this one: the deed has been done, no denying it — well, plenty of denying it to fiancée, friends and so on, but no denying it to each other.

It’s a delicious concept and what is becoming the Mill’s resident farce team of Carla Freeman, Finty Williams and Rikki Lawton — magnificent, all of them — give it everything they have.

They are joined by Lucy Heath, Joseph Timms and Mill regular Elizabeth Elvin to make for a joyously guilty night out. Perfect Wedding is Finty Williams’s third show in 12 months at the Mill and we should be grateful for it.

She shines — she always shines. Every time she enters our mood heightens in anticipation and she never disappoints.

Rikki Lawton must have to do some serious endurance training for the energy he commits to these shows.

He jumps about, skips, falls, gets up, acts like a man possessed and perspires freely with the effort of it. He grabs this script and wrings every last particle from it.

Carla Freeman has a head start whenever she’s in a show: she’s outstandingly attractive but there’s much more to her than that. She is a very good actress and some of the most poignant scenes in this show involve her.

Joseph Timms comes close to matching Lawton for energy and commitment as his best man, while Lucy Heath is a convincing bride to be — starting in innocence and gradually becoming more suspicious.

And Elizabeth Elvin gives a blowsy turn as the future mother-in-law which had us laughing — she doesn’t get many lines, but she knows how to make them work.

You can assume that with a start like that it won’t be an easy day for the groom: the bride is about to arrive and needs that hotel suite to prepare, the chambermaid is recruited to cover, and then deception is piled upon deception to hide this calamitous act.

Director Ron Aldridge makes maximum use of Tony Eden’s imaginative set design so that we can see at every stage what is happening — whether or not the actors are directly involved at the time.

In short, this is a fast-paced, energetic, well-expressed comedy with a satisfying twist at the end.

Until November 18.

Mike Rowbottom

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