Alberta Theatre Projects’ production of The Wedding Party by Kristen Thomson is that wild wedding that you always wanted to attend, as long as it wasn’t YOU in the middle of the family bickering. It has it all – the narcissist father of the bride who is paying for the whole affair, the mother of the bride who has too much to drink, the best wo(man) who is in love with the groom – to keep you hooked. Not that the production is not without its flaws. It veers off course a bit to show how the bride and groom met and it seems to suddenly change the play’s tone and there is a magician scene where a character get cut in two that seems out of place. Overall, the production is funny and the ensemble works really well together, while the cabaret seating and set design make for a lovely opportunity to attend a wedding in a theatre.
The play tells of Jack Jr. Sealey-Skeetes and Sherry Boychuk’s wedding but the event is naturally focused on their family. There is Jack’s father, Jack Sr. (Christopher Hunt), his wife Margaret (Helen Knight) and their daughter Pippa (Kristen Padayas). Not to mention Margaret’s father Edward (Josie Jones) and Jack Sr’s twin brother Tony (Hunt) and son Tiger (Jones). There is big conflict with the bride’s family, most especially the mother of the bride Maddy (Katherine Fadum), but she has her brother Frank’s (Curt McKinstry) support. On her side is also her mother (McKinstry) and her daughter (Hunt) and half brother Vlad (Knight).
It absolutely feels a bit like war, when Jack Sr says that Maddy has a big mouth and that she is cut off from consuming any more alcohol. The wedding planner Katrina (Padayas) won’t let Maddy give a speech, Jack Sr.’s Lawyer Murray (McKinstry) just adds fuel to the fire by insulting the bride and the videographer Kevin (Jones) is there to capture every intimate moment. Did we mention that the best wo(man) (Knight) Alice is in love with the groom while Jack Sr. hits on her.
It’s the wedding of drama and contempt and it’s a delight to watch it. Director Darcy Evans handles the drama well, building the tension in the play. David Fraser’s set design stands out, with a couple audience tables on stage, appetizers passed around in the first half, and draping from the ceiling to compliment the cabaret seating in gold chairs. Marc Lavallee’s video design allows some actors to be in two places (and in two costumes!) at once. Patrick Du Wors’ costume design is almost another character as the audience relies heavily on the costumes to keep track of each character.
Knight proves that she is a delight, no matter the role she has. Hunt handles his multiple roles with comedic grace and you have to love Fadum both as the mother of the bride and the dog Pilot. McKinstry demonstrates his versatility and ability to change on a dime while Padayas also shines in her multiple roles. Jones’ roles seem a bit simple and young, but she does a good job with both characters.
The Wedding Party is a fun and funny play, giving the audience the rare opportunity to attend a wedding and witness the crazy drama, while sipping a drink and relishing not being related to anyone on stage.
Catch Alberta Theatre Projects’ The Wedding Party, in its last weekend. It runs until Sunday. Tickets and more information is available online.
Photo Credit: Erin Wallace