A Wedding Story starts with a wedding and ends with one, what happens in between, is real life and love minus the pink hues of a rom com.
Peter and Evelyn seem happily settled in the comfort of their long marriage, with children, friends, a house and a golf club membership. When Evelyn is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and starts deteriorating, their life and relationship come apart at the seams. He is exhausted and desperate and she, a former doctor no less, lost in the darkness of her own mind, losing her grip on reality and her own faculties. Their daughter Sally, a cynic, meets sexy Grace at a wedding and what starts as a fling soon turns serious and demands her commitment. Add to a rich brew, Sally’s brother Robin, a California-based movie buff and the action is suffused with memories of Evelyn’s favourite film, Casablanca and imaginary films concocted on the spot by Robin.
The two narratives run in parallel and occasionally intertwine, in a simple and elegant set consisting of long white drapes – designed to compartmentalise, a formally set table and wedding hats and empty frames – alluding to memories lost or yet to be created – hanging from the ceiling.
Our memories shape our personalities; how we perceive ourselves, others and the surrounding world. Existing memories or memories we strive to acquire dictate our actions. Through the witty and imaginative narration of the characters, and the fast alternation between farce and drama, Bryony Lavery dissects love, illness, family, duty, responsibility and perseverance. There is a great scene, when the question of house care or institutionalisation for Evelyn arises that both Peter and Sally feel torn and in the end guilty for shirking the daunting responsibility to solely care for Evelyn; expect the other to rise to the occasion and offer to do it and are ultimately relieved that the option of out-of-house care exists and they will have some space and rest for themselves from the noose Evelyn’s illness has become.
Even though the characters’ witty soliloquies and the film references allow the play to be more than a depressing analysis on life with Alzheimer’s; its length and the fast alternations of farce and drama become ultimately a handicap. The spectator does not have the chance to deeply experience and digest the full array of feelings the play tries to evoke nor is there time to explain satisfactorily the connection between Sally’s acceptance of her mother’s illness and her decision to commit to Grace.
- By Bryony Lavery
- Cast: Rachel Dobell, Christian Hawker, Erika Sanderson, Heidi-Karin Meldrum & Benjamin Archer
- Tristan Bates Theatre, London
- Until 22nd February, 2014
- Time: 19:30
- Review by Katerina Yannouli
- 19 February 2014