When I loved Frozen so much, I scoured the internet for other plays by Bryony Lavery and lucked on a collection of hers, Bryony Lavery: Plays 1. It arrived in the post on Friday and I couldn’t wait to start reading.
The first play in the collection is A Wedding Story and, like Frozen, it grabbed me from the first page.
First produced in 2000, A Wedding Story is about an incredibly bright and strong doctor, Evelyn, succumbing to Alzheimer’s. It’s also about her husband and children as they try to cope with their diminished wife/mother and get on with their own lives.
It sounds like heavy subject matter but Lavery has such a wicked wit and deft touch with dialogue that it’s bitingly funny and devastating in equal measures.
There’s a moment where the adult son and daughter discuss their situation, which is hilarious but all too true:
ROBIN: I’m not grown-up enough for this.
I look sophisticated and handsome but actually I’m only six.
SALLY: Me too.
I’ve got my hanky tucked in my knickers.
ROBIN: And my mittens on elastic through the sleeves of my coat.
SALLY: I’m actually not old enough to do my own coat buttons up.
ROBIN: It’s an outrage expecting two tiny children like us to cope with this!
Another thread running through this wonderfully complex and thoughtful play is Sally’s relationship with Grace, a woman she meets at a wedding. Grace wants to marry and have children with Sally, while Sally just wants a fling.There’s a lovely moment after Grace has left a message on Sally’s answer machine and waited (to no avail) for Sally to call back.
GRACE: Beginning to get the picture here
beginning to understand the subtext…
I lie in bed arguing with myself that you’ve
got in but you were too drunk to listen
to your messages or you’re too nice to wake
me up so late but I know you’re not that nice
Creating…Schism… no matter how I argue
against myself on your behalf…for your sweet
nature for your loving constancy
I know that although there’s no phone
message from you there’s one Big Cosmic
Like Frozen, much of A Wedding Story is delivered in monologues, sometimes overlapping. It’s dense, never naturalistic and constantly engaging.
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Cast: 3F, 2M