Waterhouse and Hall’s play “Celebration” is a gentle reminder that whilst social mores and attitudes are always in a state of flux, the essence of family and the diversity of the participants within remains varied and interesting. To the credit of director Patsy Thomas and her large cast this essence wafted warmly from the Stirling stage like a hint of lavender from an ancient Aunt’s atomiser.
I liked the ensemble’s collective business as they prepared for the wedding reception busying themselves to subtle effect as a backdrop to the unfolding revelation of both character and context. In the more sombre but no less interesting wake for the late Arthur, the supply of port, sherry and nibbles flowed smoothly.
There were some standout performances within the two family tribes. Deb Walsh as the mother of the bride was the epitome of the constant unflappable matriarch throughout. Nathan Brown as her son Jack was an excellent likely lad and Chris Leech concocted the right balance of bluster, bravado and well met man about town as Uncle Arthur.
Kate van der Horst, as the slightly simple Irene, worked her lovable character well and invested her with some delightful little idiosyncrasies. Esther Michelsen as Uncle Arthur’s “fancy woman” was a well drawn symbol of social change as she challenged the gathering with a mantra of common sense and good humour.
Mother of the groom Edna Fuller beautifully realised by Penni Hamilton-Smith lifted the tone of the piece several notches when she entered the fray. The audience loved revelations of her aches, pains and repetitious dizziness. She, along with the other cast members mentioned above were most relaxed in their roles. I thought the whole cast worked with greater ease as the play proceeded and really got on top of the first night jangles.
There were some minor flaws. Accents are always an issue and one or two wandered freely across the UK whilst the occasional missed lines and cues were quickly covered or recovered.
All in all the Stirling Players have produced an entertaining rendition of a gentle comedy of manners as relevant now as it was in the 1960s. I enjoyed it very much.Celebration
Stirling Community Theatre