Best Man – Smock Alley – Review
by Frank L.
Helpfully, the necessary housekeeping rules for any theatrical performance are made part of the wedding reception ceremony. In addition, every audience member has on their seat a little notice headed “John & Rebecca”. It contains all the information you will need to know about the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom, the maid of honour, the best man, the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. The set has a lectern, some balloons on the ground and some bunches and bouquets of flowers all showing that a traditional wedding reception is in progress.
The celebrations have reached the point where the best man is to give his speech. Up steps Cathal Cooney (Colman Hayes) to undertake the unenviable task. He has managed to mislay the notes for his speech (he left them somewhere in the bar, needless to say) so he is going to have to “wing” it. After problems with the microphone, he sets sail on the task of covering the time that he has known the groom, John. In this case, their time together in the Christian Brothers’ school proves fertile ground for some innuendo. He traverses John’s various flings and how he ended up with the nickname Salty Fingers! There is then talk of his new wife Rebecca, how the happy couple first met and their time together. Even though he is single, Cathal does not baulk at giving the newlyweds some advice. He does stick to the traditional structure of a best man’s speech. However, as he recounts all these happenings underlying his speech is the fact that he is the sole member of his friends to remain unhitched. What started as a wedding speech starts to become the story of his failed relationship with Hazel!
Hayes identifies in the audience members of the wedding party, such as the bride and groom, the bridesmaids and other dramatis personae. He even asks one or two questions and no matter what the answer is, he incorporates it into his fast-moving text. His pauses when slightly “off” references are being made are perfectly timed. The audience no doubt recalls various such Best Man speeches that they have endured. It is all great fun as Hayes holds your attention for yet another funny anecdote or embarrassing incident.
The piece is a novel twist on a standard topic. The familiarity of the subject matter puts everyone at ease from the start. The little notice on the seat was a brilliant idea to break the ice. Hayes works well with the audience and his ad-libbing style is impressive, while always drawing the audience back to the story. He has dabbled in stand-up comedy and this piece lies somewhere between a comedy performance and theatre, but it is all done with professional comic flair. He is superb as he creates a giddy and lighthearted mood in the theatre, with the crowd interaction key to the experience.
Best Man – Written by: Mikey Fleming & Colman Hayes
Directed by: Mikey Fleming
Performed by: Colman Hayes
Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review
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