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Theatre Review: The Wedding

13 February 18 words: Adrian Reynolds

Dreams of community brought to life with magic and grace

When a theatre production is guided by text, it's possible to some extent to assess what you experience in relation to those words. Are the performers congruent with dialogue, and if they aren't is that because the actors fall short of its potential, or because in the gap between speech and action exist layers of nuance?

What about a production that's both primarily a multi-sensory experience, and one where multiple languages are featured? That's the case with Gecko's new show The Wedding and a full response deserves more than the space I have for this review. Short version: I was captivated, thrilled, haunted, moved.

The wedding of the title is the implicit relationship of citizen with state. It's brought to life with the striking visual of a succession of people hurtling down a chute to arrive somewhere they're told is their home. That's the case for those native to the arbitrary territory they land in anyway. But there are others, arriving packed three to a suitcase, whose experience is not as welcoming. The word is never used, but the anxious ways they try to engage with their new home, and the response they receive, puts them in the position of refugees.

The theatrical experience is complete and compelling. In a darkened auditorium and often using minimal light, there's a dreamlike quality to the pictures that performers create with movement, props, and emotion. There's language too, very much a verbalisation of what we as viewers can already feel from the character dynamics, even if the words are not known to us. Musicians and technicians make an impression too, equal to and sometimes more dominant than what performers are doing. The whole is seamless, vivid - a fantasy grounded in authenticity. What's potent here is that mix of the socially rooted and imaginal realms - The Wedding is a triumphant blend, a powerful and affecting show that's dreamlike but engaged.

The Wedding was at Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 2 February 2018.

Nottingham Playhouse website