Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Awarded 2 stars
“Pineapples don’t exist. They’re like unicorns and eskimos.” Wise words uttered by old matchmaker crone Fanny (Camille Ucan) as she attempts to find a suitable wife for Peter (Ben Clark), a rich fop who, along with his butler Stephen (Richard Soames), are not dissimilar toJeeves and Wooster. Fanny has Agatha (Celeste Dring) in mind to be the perfect bride but has decided to give her the choice of multiple men. Peter (Clark) must be convinced that Agatha (Dring) is the one for him by close friend Charles (Adam Riches), who is determined to outwit the professional matchmaker.
The whole performance plays out like a traditional farce, with typically slapstick elements – suitors are hidden in cupboards, men make a hurried escape by jumping out of windows and there is deception a-plenty as characters try to outwit each other to win Agatha’s hand. Each cast member seems to draw inspiration from alternate farcical actors, which only serves to showcase their insufficiencies in comparison. They are too much like poorly drawn caricatures of their chosen, more accomplished performers. Apart from Jeeves and Wooster, Fanny takes Julie Walters’ role as Petula in Dinnerladies for her inspiration, whilst the suitor Ivan (John Henry Falle) is the spitting image of Brian Blessed, complete with booming voice. Unfortunately there are no performances of note – Charles has some evil moments that paint him as the villain and Fanny has lines that encourage laughter (“I am one sweaty Fanny!” is a typical tongue-in-cheek example). The others are simply awkward when interacting with each other on stage.
Saying that the set design sparse is an understatement. Whilst this in itself isn’t a problem (artistic licence of miming the use of props is more than expected in a black box production), the actors need to be more convincing – butler Stephen has a strange way of sweeping up a broken mirror and Agatha’s piano playing is more in keeping with a poorly trained typist. But worst of all is the script. An actor can only do so much to convey the story, but when there is no background, no apparent ending and no clear overarching structure the whole show is lost before it’s even begun.
Overall the production is slapdash and a bit of a shambles. Given the supposed comedic pedigree of these actors as solo performers, you’d would expect the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts. If that’s the case, the sum here produces an altogether negative result.
Marriage plays at Assembly George Square Studio 2 (venue 17) until August 31 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.