The Wedding Experience is from the same company that created the hilarious Faulty Towers event. A two hour show where the audience are immersed in the experience and indeed provide some of the entertainment.
The concept is simple but brilliant. The audience are the guests, arriving for a wedding reception at a smart hotel. We gathered in the bar and soon became aware of the arrival some of the cast, namely the mother and father of the bride and the hapless wedding planner (a tray of warm water being the result of his ice sculpture…). They mingled among the guests explaining that the bride and groom (“Will and Kate”) had eloped to get married, fed-up with the comparisons with the royal couple and plans for a grand event. However, they have returned for the reception and would be shortly be making an arrival.
Around 120 guests then moved to the dining room and took our places at large round tables (decorated with confetti and comedy masks), as the wedding reception unfolded. Without wishing to give away too much of the plot, the next two hours are a hilarious sequence of events, creating the perfect wedding reception from hell, complete with family clashes, unexpected and unwelcome arrivals, break-ups, make-ups, inappropriate revelations, music, dancing and much more. Think of any wedding reception you have been to – the good the bad and the frankly embarrassing- and all the elements are there.
The actors should be commended for their improvisation skills, swift costume changes, regional accents and comedy timing. My own highlights were the arrival of the groom’s mother and the revelation that her son might just have been the result of a liaison with Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet; the first dance and awkward formation of the wedding arch by all the guests; the best man and the mother of the groom taking a shine to one another (“don’t worry” said the best man to the groom, “you don’t have to call me Dad!”), and the cutting of the cake. Oh and the mis-spelt Will and Kate mugs “commiserating” the happy event.
As the evening progressed, we all relaxed around the table, much like any other wedding reception, getting to know new acquaintances, celebrating with the happy couple, cringing at the speeches, and getting into the swing of it all. The food was much as you would expect at a wedding (drinks are extra), but to critique the food would be to miss the point. It’s all about the experience and to become a part of the fun.
Immersive comedy is such a clever idea and it’s great to see a Brighton Fringe show making it to the West End. It’s adaptable and could be set up in any hotel around the country. Highly recommended for couples embarking upon their own wedding (how not to do it!), family groups, and indeed anyone who enjoys getting involved in the show.
At £39 per person including the dinner, it’s very good value and an original and entertaining night out. And for anyone visiting the Edinburgh Fringe, it will be playing there from 11-23 August.