At the weekend we went to a local village to watch the Bleadon Players in Four Weddings and an Elvis; if I mention that it’s set in a wedding chapel in Las Vegas I think you will understand the title! I wrote yesterday about the play itself and how successful it was and how much the audience enjoyed it.
You can guess from the title that this is going to be a comedy, but how funny a comedy is depends on non-comical aspects, and even in a play like this, which could be described as a farce, has moments of pathos, romance and tension.
The first story is of a couple, Stan and Bev, who have come together because their partners became romantically entangled. Their relationship and decision to get married in Sandy’s Las Vegas wedding chapel, a week before their ex-partners marry, is an act of revenge as much as love. It becomes clear that Bev has stronger feelings for Stan than he does for her, and the edge of bitterness and despair brought to his character gives a poignancy to the situation. At the last-minute, Stan’s ex-wife rings him and reveals that she’s made a mistake, she really loves Stan. His face lights up and he looks joyous as he never has in anticipation of marrying Bev. For a moment the audience is torn between wanting Bev to be happy, and wanting Stan to return to his wife and children – which he does. Bev is left distraught, wounded, and alone – with only Sandy and John, the Elvis impersonator who was to have conducted the ceremony. She seems crushed by this turn of events – no comedy in someone abandoned so heartlessly.
The next scene is in complete contrast, and in a way was more difficult to act because the two people about to be married are more caricatures than characters. Vanessa and Bryce were stars of a long running and popular TV series about surfing spies and the actors did well to engage the audience because the parts they had to play were so exaggerated. Vanessa and Bryce want to get married in a blaze of publicity and bring themselves back into the limelight. However, no-one from the press turns up and they are left alone for the ceremony, which they’d planned cynically and with no real commitment to becoming a couple. The end of the scene reveals that in fact Bryce is gay which he has never publicly revealed, and that Vanessa is an unreliable alcoholic drunk, in and out of rehab. This scene to me seemed the weakest, partly because it was too long, and the dialogue repetitive. The actors however managed to convey the tragedy of the two ageing has-beens, and the hopelessness of their desire to recreate themselves as glamorous celebrities.
The third part was the most hilarious – and yet it was very touching, and what could have been corny and predictable wasn’t. Marvin and Fiona met through him writing to her in prison; she’d been sentenced to six years for driving a getaway car for her then boyfriend Fist. As we met the characters it seemed that Marvin has been duped, that Fiona only wants him as a way to be released early. He’s small-town, educated and very boring, she’s a feisty, tough woman who has been brought up the hard way on the wrong side of town. Fist breaks out of jail to come to the marriage – it seems he’s come to steal her away from Marvin, and it seems she will admit she really loves him and was only using Marvin. We’re led to believe this, but no! Fist only wants to make sure she’s doing the right thing and Marvin is deserving of her, and she truly loves Marvin and wants to become part of his small-town boring life. All the actors were fantastic and the audience cheered them on. The finale of this scene was Fist conducting the marriage ceremony as he had become an ordained minister through a correspondence course in jail.
The final scene brought all these stories together. The actress who played Sandy did an amazing performance – she was on stage the whole time, and really pulled the narrative together. Sandy herself was getting married. She wasn’t marrying her ex-husband for the fourth time, but an elderly Elvis impersonator who had come into the story earlier at the expected wedding of the two old actors. This was the smallest part in the play, and yet, the actor who had few lines was able to convey so much by his expression. All the cast (except Stan) were on the stage for this final scene as the previous couples returned for the wedding. Bev the abandoned bride had married John, Bryce and Vanessa were still together as vloggers and reality TV stars, Fiona and Marvin were idyllically happy and Fist lodged with them. A very happy ending to a happy story!
As I mentioned before, we had such good fun we are definitely getting tickets for the next production!
Here’s a link to the first part of this review: