Brighton Fringe: ‘The Wedding Reception’ Experience

Who doesn’t love this time of year in Brighton? It’s Fringe season and tonight we are off to experience one of the weird and wonderful shows from the jam-packed programme. Comedy theatre/interactive dining experience, The Wedding Reception promises to abandon convention and throw you right into the midst of Will and Kate’s wedding day.
Currently planning a wedding reception of our own, my partner and I thought this choice for our first fringe show rather apt. From the same producers that bought you ‘Faulty Towers The Dining Experience’, if nothing else, it would surely make us feel better about how disorganised we have been.

On arrival it is hard to know if the show has already started. The venue is incredibly hard to find; there is no-one around when we arrive; once we are spotted and instructed to get ourselves a drink, there is no-one at the bar to serve us – is this all part of the experience?
As more people filter in, it becomes clear things are yet to kick off. We are early and our imaginations have run away with us. As soon as the stressed, spectacled face of the wedding planner pops his head around the door, we know the curtain has come up. Soon after this the mother of the bride Lynn emerges – unmistakeable in a florescent floral two-piece – and invites herself into the arms of her guests.

It transpires that our bride and groom have felt somewhat pressurised into a ‘royal’ sized wedding. A couple of weeks ago they eloped to Gretna Green to avoid family arguments instead of going ahead with their wedding as planned. Now they are back to celebrate with their guests, and face the music at their wedding reception. As the night unfolds and more characters reveal themselves, it becomes apparent that Will and Kate have lost control – if they ever had it.

Building momentum like a snowball rolling downhill, the night descends into chaos. Somehow in amongst an incredibly ‘eye opening’ best man’s speech, a relatively hard sell plus business card from the father of the bride Ray, and belated ‘hen’ paraphernalia being adorned on the chief bridesmaid, we are served our meal.

Although the meal is clearly playing a supporting role to this evening’s events, it is very pleasant. The performers allow us just enough time between wedding revelations and hilarious banter to consider our stomachs. We are served Goats Cheese & Chive Mousse and grilled focaccia with roasted golden beetroot and seasonal leaves to start, and Chicken Breast, crushed tarragon potatoes, vine roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled asparagus and salsa verde for our main.
With the promise of cake and an impressive finale, the show comes to a climatic end. The time to be an audience is upon us. The cast gets an eruptive applause and they deserve it. All the characters have been solid throughout and the gags well crafted. A throwaway line from Ray regarding his dysfunctional family not managing to be in the same room together all night – a wink to the audience in reference to the actors multiple roles – bends the forth wall and particularly hits the mark.

Thoroughly good fun and certainly immersive, The Wedding Reception forces you to let your hair down and get involved. My partner and I left with smiles, and a head full of notes on what not to do at our wedding reception!

The Wedding Reception – Sussex County Cricket Club, 8-9 May

Sarah Gathercole

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