“There was no happier man on the planet than me, the day I learned they’d split The Hobbit into three separate films”
In what is quite the coup for Salisbury Playhouse, Chris Chibnall’s new play Worst Wedding Ever is premiering there, a product of AD Gareth Machin’s determination to promote new writing from local sources. A resident of Dorset, Chibnall held the much of the nation’s collective attention last year in the brilliant Broadchurch which starred the beautiful Dorset coastline alongside its whodunit, and whilst this very much ploughs a different furrow, it proved to be quite engaging.
A comedy through and through, about a young couple keen to have a quiet wedding on the cheap but failing to take into account the determination of their families and in particular her mother, to get involved as much as possible. What makes it work though is the way which Chibnall manages to stretch the remit of comedy here to cover both the outrageously farcical and the touchingly human – there’s a huge emotionality at play here which means the comedy is often most moving.
Rosie Wyatt and Rudi Dharmalingam, a pair of cracking young actors, are huge amounts of fun as Rachel and Scott whose dreams of a simple affair never look like coming to pass in the face of Carolyn Pickle’s mother, a superbly bossy figure but one with layered depth as she pursues the dream wedding beyond all reason. Machin’s direction balances the range of the comedy efficiently on James Button’s split level set and most importantly, he ensures that the laughs really do keep on coming.
There’s lots of fun all around though – Rebecca Oldfield’s embittered older sister Alison and a Portaloo pretty much steal the day, Richard Hurst’s trendy vicar fending off her increasingly drunken advances, Martin Hyder’s highly funny and Lord of the Rings-obsessed father and Lloyd Gorman’s band leader, who just happens to be Alison’s ex. A late curveball feels like something of an unnecessary addition to the play as a whole but it should take little away from a highly successful production.