Mary Woodward Review

Daniel Getting Married, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Review

A Play, a Pie and a Pint

***** (5 stars)

This play pressed all my buttons, took me down memory lane, and had me enthralled throughout.

Daniel’s singing to himself as he gets ready for his wedding, sorting out his things and getting changed in the church vestry, anticipating the pleasures of his wedding night [has he been watching Bridgerton, I wonder?].  His mum, Joy, comes in and starts fussing around him: Daniel protests, but is also anxious that everything should be perfect: he’s especially concerned that Zak shouldn’t see him before the wedding.  His mum protests that she and his dad spent the night together before the wedding, and walked to church [this very same church] together, and they were together for forty-five years – surely Daniel’s making a fuss about nothing?

Daniel realises that he’s got the ‘something new, something borrowed, something blue’ – but where’s the ‘something old’?  Joy comes to the rescue, bringing out his dad’s cuff links and says how happy he would have been to see this day.  She tells Daniel to practise his vows – and tears up at the love he’s expressing, saying “Zak’s the one, isn’t he?”

Daniel seems flustered by this: he’s already reacted very badly to being called Eeyore, and now asks “is this about Gabriel?”  His mum responds by saying “your dad wasn’t the only one, you know” and telling her son about her Interrail romance with Luca – an unlikely pairing who really hit it off.  Luca asked Joy to marry him, but she knew she wanted to go to university and so they parted.

Joy goes off to attend to wedding details and Daniel is alone.  A knock at the door has him shouting in a panic to Zak not to come in – but the knock is repeated…and repeated…and Gabriel comes in. Daniel is completely thrown, can’t stand it when Gabriel calls him Pooh Bear, and furiously tells him to get out – why is he here, today of all days: why didn’t he get in touch any of the 1,642 1/2 days since they saw each other?  Yes, there’s been a pandemic, but there are phones, right? Things you call each other on, right?

The ensuing conversation triggered so many of my memories/ regrets/ past wishes: I was mesmerised, torn between wanting Daniel to sort everything out with Gabriel and vanish into the sunset with him, and wanting him to resist all his blandishments and stick with Zak and the solid life the two of them have established together.   I was divided between Gabriel’s scorn of all things hetero – ‘we can make our own rules or have no rules, we don’t have to live by theirs’ – and Daniel’s ‘I want to do this, two men getting married, in the church in which my mum and dad were wed, in front of all the people who made my life hell when I was growing up – the biggest F*** You of them all’.

How does it end?  Well, dear reader, you’ll have to go and see for yourself!  Despite Covid striking two of the original actors, meaning that Joy and Gabriel were acting script in hand, the play was completely engrossing.  Emily Winter’s Joy was lovingly maternal, everything she did being [in her eyes at least] in her son’s best interests; Michael Dylan’s Gabriel was the archetypal seductive Irish charmer – was it all blarney or was it for real?’  Neil John Gibson’s Daniel was superbly conflicted, deeply passionate, and desperate for the stability and happiness he’d longed for all his life. 

A classic love triangle with a contemporary twist and some covid complications, this is a show not to miss.  I wish I could say the same about the pie…last week’s Scotch pie had virtually bulletproof pastry and a rather slimy and nondescript filling: this week’s macaroni pie was marginally better, but had been sitting so long it was dried out: I’m lucky enough to get it as part of my press ticket, but paying punters might well be somewhat put out by being asked to shell out for something that undistinguished [but the glass of wine – after the show – was most welcome.]

Next week’s show is the last of this series My Doric Diary – if it’s anything like as good as Daniel Getting Married, we’re in for a real treat!

Daniel Getting Married, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 9th April, for tickets go to: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event/a-play-a-pie-and-a-pint-daniel-getting-married

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