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The Wedding Singer

Edinburgh Playhouse
2 stars
How do you turn a 95 minute rom-com into a stage show so long it makes Chekhov’s collected output appear brief? That’s the question you come away with during the interval of this over-egged version of the 1998 film set in a big-haired New Jersey circa 1985. An ingenious piece of casting finds Jonathan Wilkes playing Robbie, an unlucky in love cabaret turn providing pre-nuptial entertainment for couples on the verge of happy ever afters. With Natalie Casey playing equally luckless waitress Julia, what follows is a thoroughly old-fashioned affair that’s as quaintly silly as the Sex in The City movie will be in a couple of decades time.

Its emphasis on the era’s be-mulletted fashion disasters actually resembles those episodes of Friends where the gang knowingly flashback to their younger selves. But with a bombastic, not-so-soft rock soundtrack that pastiches everything from airbrushed metal to Billy Joel, and an all-female city slicker chorus line straight out of a Robert Palmer video, it can’t decide if its post-modern pastiche or Wall Street satire. If we’re to buy into either it needs songs that are, if not jukebox familiar, then at least good.

Even without the pre-show technical hitch it’s at least half an hour too long, and only in the second half does director Karen Bruce’s choreography gather momentum before it all goes a bit Airplane. Both Wilkes and Casey perform with a certain charm, and if as much energy, craftsmanship and pzazz had been put into the first half mess as was focussed on the curtain call, this might look more than the shotgun marriage it does here.

The Herald, May 21st 2008

ends

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