Theatre Review: Celebration

Celebration is a ‘slice of life’ comedy dealing with two of the most important days in our lives – The Wedding and The Funeral. One family with two events and as the saying goes, “Weddings and funerals, nothing like them for bringing out the best and worst in people”.

By

Presented by Stirling Players

Reviewed 13 September 2019

Celebration is a ‘slice of life’ comedy dealing with two of the most important days in our lives – The Wedding and The Funeral. One family with two events and as the saying goes, “Weddings and funerals, nothing like them for bringing out the best and worst in people”. Set in the early 1960s in the North of England, we first meet the Lucases and the Fullers in a room above The Cricketers Arms as they set up for the wedding of Bernard and Christine. The bride’s family are busy with preparations for the big day while the groom’s family are nowhere to be seen. The late arrival of Bernard’s hypochondriac mother and snooty aunt only make matters worse!

The second half of the play is set at the family home 6 months later after the funeral of a much-loved uncle. It’s strictly a family only occasion so the arrival of Arthur’s ‘lady friend’ May, much disparaged and usually ignored by the family, results in heightened tensions.

Director Patsy Thomas has assembled a very capable and highly experienced cast of performers.  An ensemble piece, all have their moment to shine but none more so than the indomitable Penni Hamilton-Smith as Edna Fuller, the Groom’s mother with a conveniently frail disposition and many delightfully humorous interjections. Another standout is Esther Michelsen as the ‘other woman’, perfectly traversing the juxtaposition between the repugnant mistress figure and supportive and loving partner who surmounts the complete lack of acceptance by the family.

The decision to perform in Northern English accents was a brave one and was mostly successful although some performers mastered it better than others and it took a while to adjust to the unfamiliar dialect! The appeal of the play is the relationships between the characters and how one can immediately relate them to at least some of one’s own extended family. There are many comedic moments, but Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall have captured these family interactions with such accuracy that I felt the desire to escape the often monotonous, predictable ramblings, much as I feel the desire to escape real occasions that throw together family who would not normally choose to spend time together.  Perhaps some less realistic and more entertaining interludes would make this work better on stage.

Mention must be made of the wonderful 60’s style costumes, and set pieces, which transported me back to my childhood and contributed to a pleasant evening of nostalgia.

Reviewed by Trish Francis

Venue: The Stirling Community Theatre

Season: Until 28 Sept 2019

Tickets: $16 – $22

Bookings: stirlingplayers.sct.org.au or PHONE 74816152

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