Saturday, January 28, 2017


James Karas

The Wedding Party credits Kristen Thomson as the playwright but we are informed that the play is based on characters created with Trish Lindstrom, Tony Nappo, Moya O’Connell, Tom Rooney and Bahia Watson. This could be described uncharitably as a play created by a committee or a marvelous venture into experimental character creation shaped into a play by Thompson.

A pretty woman with big breasts from a working class background is marrying a man from a wealthy family. We do not hear about his sexual organ presumably because if you have money size does not matter. We never see the young couple so the size I mentioned is straight from the play.
Kristen Thomson, Tom Rooney and Jason Cadieux in one of their many roles in The Wedding Party.
We have six actors (Jason Cadieux, Virgilia Griffith, Trish Lindström, Moya O'Connell, Tom Rooney and Kristen Thomson) represent what looks like a horde of characters that make up the guests of the wedding party. The action takes place in the reception area and in the dining room of the posh hall where the wedding takes place.

We have parents, grandparents, siblings and friends acted by the six actors with some very fast costume changes and with considerable demands on them to change demeanor and speech patterns for the vastly different characters and situation.

The bride’s mother is a low-life lush who gets progressively more soused until her condition causes the inevitable altercation. The groom’s father is an officious snob who does not approve of the bride because she is on a lower rung of the social ladder than his family. Grandma is nuts and there are some obnoxious loudmouths, an uncle who shows up dressed in gym clothes and a cousin of the groom who drinks too much and is dressed as if he were going to a ball game. And let’s not forget the family dog which is treated like a person and the magician Vlad.

How do people behave at a wedding?  This is a happy occasion and everybody has to be happy or act as if they are happy and let everyone know that they are happy. Happiness does not mean inner serenity and contentment but loudly expressed jollity and emotional expression that ranges from the maudlin to the ecstatically ebullient. Some of the happiness is expressed in bad jokes but we are supposed to join in the agony and the ecstasy if I may coin a phrase

Fissures in the family fabric appear. The father of the groom has an identical twin brother whom he has not seen for ten years appear with his son Tiger, the lout. The bride’s mother becomes more obnoxious with the consumption of alcohol until all hell breaks loose.

Is it enjoyable? Mostly. The characters and the situations that the group created are rendered so well that they appear all too real. If you saw these people at a real wedding you will sidle away from them and go for a drink at the free bar. You don’t want to watch them or listen to their idiocies.

The twin brothers are played by the same actor and they cannot be on stage at the same time.  Our credulity is stretched.  The Menaechmi Twins, The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night, among other plays, have covered much of the ground available for mistaken identity of twins and Thomson and Co. have very little to add to it.

The nippy speed of the actors and their innate comic talent in representing an array of characters at breakneck speed go some way in rescuing the production. Director Chris Abraham had his hands full orchestrating and directing the traffic alone of the six members of the cast.

The set by Julie Fox managed to suggest a posh hall with a few well-chosen pieces of furniture. Ming Wong’s costumes are just what you would expect to find at a wedding that is from the simple and fashionable to the gauche.

The production is by Crow’s Theatre and Talk is Free Theatre in the spanking new theatre at Carlaw and Dundas. This is the former factory district that has been revamped into spanking new condos. And it is in the east end of Toronto, an area where theatres are about as plentiful as oases in the desert. A great step forward.

The Wedding Party by Kristen Thomson continues until February 11, 2017 at Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4M 2T1.

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