Review: The Wedding – Gecko Theatre at Liverpool Playhouse

Photo: Richard Haighton

By Nigel Smith

THERE is a sense in which Gecko’s latest touring show feels like an extension of their previous one – Institute. We still find individuals trapped by their own lives, but here there are far more stories to be told. Perhaps a few too many, as the piece does feel sprawling and episodic, despite its concentrated 80 minute running time.

The characters who populate the work are almost ‘born’ onto the stage, whizzing out of a children’s slide onto a pile of soft toys, but almost immediately they are fitted into wedding dresses and perplexingly plonked into chairs where they begin to contemplate the contracts they’ve entered into.

Artistic director Amit Lahav explains that he was “struck by the sense that we are all married, bound by the many contracts of modern life”. So it is that each of the performers act out their own tales of emotional entrapment.

It’s a spectacular piece of staging, with the sure-fire choreography filling the space with constant movement and intrigue. The set itself is an ever-changing structure that keeps throwing up surprises, and Joe Hornsby’s lighting ensures that our attention is always focused precisely where it should be. With a cast of 11 performers it’s hard not to be beguiled by the impressive movement, and there are also quite a few moments of quirky humour to lift the emotionally dense narrative. There are times, though, where it feels as though it’s stretching a point somewhat.

Gecko’s physical theatre style is unusual in that it contains dialogue, but here it is spoken in a wide range of different languages. The music and rhythm of the words seems to speak to us all the more because we can’t understand the language itself and, oddly, the occasional lines spoken in my own language felt incongruous, breaking the spell somehow.

The work comes to a striking ending, in which the entire cast join in a rousing, ritualistically rhythmic final scene. The sheer power of this climax packs such a punch that it can’t fail to be greeted by an ecstatic response, even if it’s hard to explain how it fits into the show as a whole.

The Wedding is at the Playhouse for one week only and then continues its tour via Doncaster, Oxford and Southampton.