15/05/2007 - 18/05/2007
Created by Millen Baird
Script consultant: Tim McLachlan
Directed by Tim McLachlan
Newly weds, Curtis and Marion Argyle, cordially invite you to join them for a hilarious evening of Wedding Speeches.
Simply raise your glass as a jealous racing commentator, left out of the bridal party, toasts the groom. Please kindly resist the urge to intervene when Curtis’ intoxicated father, Matthew, appoints himself MC for the evening.
Millen Baird’s brilliant solo comedy serves up a wedding reception like no other. With the merry union of jealousy, over-indulgence and over 20 outrageous characters, Wedding Speeches is truly a theatrical match made in heaven. Say “I do” to the opportunity to be part of this preliminary snapshot of marital bliss.
Directed by Tim McLachlan Wedding Speeches has enjoyed sellout seasons in Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth and Hamilton.
“an ingenious one man show….what makes it a more substantial work is Baird’s capacity as writer and actor to probe the less obvious truths of human existence and create a complex web of human failings and quiet strengths. That he achieves all this alone is remarkable.” The National Business Review
“a remarkable performance full of confidence and brimming with energy” The Dominion Post
“terrific, entertaining and very satisfying…this kaleidoscopic work goes beyond the stand-up comic’s mere impersonations” The Waikato Times
“A wealth of entertainment…Millen Baird is a name you should watch out for both on stage and on screen”
The Daily News, New Plymouth
Millen is a graduate of the Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts and has been a professional writer/actor/comedian for the past seven years. During that time he has played a vast range of roles but specializes in playing weird and wonderful characters. In 2005 Millen wrote, acted in and produced the TV sketch comedy special The Comedy Pilots. The Comedy Pilots is now in development for a TV series. Also in development is Millen’s second solo stage show, Outward Bound, which will premiere in Auckland in 2008.
Dates: Tue 15 – Sat 19 May, 8.30pm
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGEā, Auckland City
Tickets: Adults $25 Conc. $23 Groups 10+ $22
Bookings: Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration: 1 hour
Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,
Skillful, poised, subdued
Review by Nik Smythe 16th May 2007
When I heard the title, a lot of preconceptions of stereotype sprang to mind. When I saw the show, many said preconceptions were indeed realised, and many more besides, generally in a good way.
Millen Baird ‘marries’ cliché wedding speech material with other cultural parodies such as horserace commentator, department store spruiker, school photographer, auctioneer, Stars in Their Eyes contestant, even a crocodile hunter. But there are many elements besides stereotype in Wedding Speeches.
The speeches tell a lot of the engaging story of the lives of newlyweds Curtis and Marion, but we also microscope in to various private encounters among the family and party guests. In fact, though we meet more than twenty characters in this hour long split personality fest, we do not see the bride or groom speak, although we meet them briefly at the very beginning, when the ceremony is mimed slickly to the tune of Dave Dobbyn’s ‘Magic What She Do’.
Within the well-tailored gags and gimmickry lies a touching heart, as we see the complexity of the interwoven issues between all the characters. Young Curtis in particular has evidently touched the lives of many around him. Ultimately the main journey in the story is that of the groom’s father and emcee, Matthew Argyle, a detestable drunken old snot who shamelessly offends just about everyone he meets as a matter of course. In the final scene, Mr Argyle having been moved by the words of an impromptu speaker, we are witness just a faint glimmer of his loving soul that he stoically conceals at all times.
It does occur to me that for a stage comedy about as gregarious an event as a wedding, the action is for the most part somewhat subdued (the Steve Irwin bit being an inevitable exception). It seems strange, but does in a way evoke that classically dark element of Kiwi art and culture. The concentrated ‘smallness’ of Baird’s performance could bode well for his upcoming television show ‘The Millen Baird Show’, currently in preproduction.
Also, though Baird’s many personae speak out toward the audience as the wedding reception, we are not really being directly engaged with at all. The atmosphere feels decidedly theatrical, as opposed to the less formal comedy style, and whilst tempted to heckle a number of times it seemed oddly inappropriate so I refrained. (Being at the Herald, which I’ve mentioned before can definitely have a compromising effect on theatrical energy may be part of the cause of this).
With no director credited, I assume credit must go to Baird himself for giving his play a tightly honed and quite directed feel. Each character is convincing, fascinating and distinctive. The actor’s professional poise and exceptional skill are clearly highlighted, driven by a slick and sparky script also written by him, with the assistance of script consultant Tim McLachlan.
Wedding Speeches is a solid piece of theatre that belies its shallow pretensions. It would be great to see it done in a more intimate venue, perhaps even dinner theatre.
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