Brighton Fringe 2011
Lust, romance, fear and cake on your face. The big day has finally arrived – so this is marriage? Brighton based company, TrailBlaze, invites you to an interactive and immersive wedding reception; one you’ll never forget. Sip on bubbly, find hidden secrets in dusty cupboards and gossip with Grandma. With live music, speeches and a buffet- what could possibly go wrong?
After the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate the idea of weddings seems a popular topic of conversation.
With it being Fringe season it seems only fitting that devised theatre companies such as TrailBlaze see it as a source of inspiration in such a universal subject matter.
Why not? After all there is a wealth of material to be pulled upon from a wedding; the best man speech, the stag and hen parties, the drunken reception and the service itsself.
What this promising young company have managed to do is tell a touching and humorous story from the meeting to the inevitable wedding of a young couple.
Set in The Marlborough Pub and Theatre, four friends re-live memories of times gone by, all in the setting of the bar area downstairs from the small theatre space. The audience on entry are guests and family members attending the wedding reception.
As the (audience) ‘guests’ arrive they are shown into the bar and given a name badge.
Typical of a site-specific piece, name badges are given as a way of interacting with the audience from the outset; here TrailBlaze do it with much energy.
As soon as the name badge is pinned on, the cast begin interacting and constantly involving their new family member in the retelling of the days events.
A bright, bubbly and talented Amy Curtis is highly skilled in making the audience feel welcome and involved in the reception (performance). Her performance throughout in a ‘supporting role’ was engaging. In the ‘Maid of Honor’ role she presented herself as a very competent performer.
Joined by James Dubious in the role of the ‘Best Man’, the frantic retelling of drunken university memories soon appeared before the audience including a very entertaining rendition of ‘Bop It!’.
If a little loud in places, the public address made this site-specific piece both funny and engaging..
After some time, the ‘Guests’ are joined by an excitable bride and groom in Elliot Quinn and Charlotte Blandford who are both very promising performers.
Elliot seemed to go from strength to strength during the performance, his character becoming ever more believable after the surreal ‘Mighty Boosh’ style baby dance and ‘Dad’ dance.
Elliot is a talented and very enthusiastic comedic performer, not to say when needed he could not deliver a believable and heart felt song or two.
Charlotte Blandford was impressive in her portrayal of the frustrated Bride. Looking lovely in her Converse trainers she presents the modern day ‘student’ bride making the transition from footloose and fancy-free to a stereotypical marital life.
Charlotte makes for a wonderful compromise to the very elegant Kate Middleton. Charlotte’s performance, especially when faced with the prospect of living a married life in the form of the ‘knickers song’ was very funny yet poignant, especially with all the recent focus around the ‘Royal Wedding’ it was a farcical look at the women change when becoming a wife.
During the performance there was a strong scene in which the Bride and Groom relive the night the Groom was to propose at Brighton Pier. The audience are given props to help create the pier, the lights dim and we see a 2D representation of Brighton amusements with fairy lights.
Unfortunately, the scene was ruined by a member of the audience clearly more interested in licking the bowl in which the crisps had been passed around in, than paying attention to this beautifully staged scene. Between the slurps, licking of lips and fingers the audience was unable to hear what the performers had clearly devised and written to be a lovely and heartfelt scene.
With perfectly placed moments of escapism the music created a sense of humor and surrealism as they tossed baby dolls and lace knickers around.
For a company fairly fresh out of university, the dedication to the characters and delivery of the script were very strong. With the Marlborough Theatre being a small venue the space was utilised with thought and a clear understanding of what theatre in the round and site-specific means.
A solid cast along with a well rehearsed piece results in a clear demonstration of how improvisation is key when relying on audience participation.
The story was set out from the beginning with the audience greeted and spoken to individually by the actors from the start.
However I do recommend, for the show’s further development, that the ‘secret’ information given when sat in the reception might have been used more in performance than just expecting the audience to discuss on their own during the transitional periods.
All in all the performance was clean, precise and very well structured. It is good to see a company with its Brighton fringe debut performance to begin with such with such a relevant idea.
My only hope is that this promising company might stick to the mode of delivery and develop their ideas in the same way as they have done with ‘The Rotten Wedding’.
The use of music and physical performance mixed with ‘naturalistic’ interaction is both engaging and exciting. I wish them all the best and feel the show would benefit from transferring to Edinburgh and then returning next year for a extra slice of wedding cake.