The Wedding, Barbican

by Romy Foster

Born into fun, teddies and laughter, each character comes into the world by a slide, toppling into a pile of stuffed animals. Two at a time, the actors play together as grown-up and child. We watch as the adults entertain the children with their toys. It’s heart-warming, though these encounters do not last long. Shortly after, we see multiple children stripped of their innocence; their cuddly toys adorned with sunflowers are thrown aside. They are thrust straight into marriage and working life. It seems like the fun is over all too quickly.

Set in the now, The Wedding explores the complexities of human nature and challenges the idea of routine. Gecko combine movement, sound and language to tell this dystopian take on human beings being ‘wedded’ to society. We see the harsh reality of growing up too soon and being shoved into the throes of a capitalistic empire built by those who came before us.

Each character tells us their story, and although everyone speaks a different language, the themes are universal and easy to understand. They are sick of struggling to survive whilst the people at the top sit at their high tables, anonymous, gluttonous, selfish and indulgent. Themes of nepotism are also explored through symbolism, such as costume and a direct route to the high table – a boy is born, placed into a golden suit and given a leg up to sit at the high table with no clear evidence of working hard. There is a prominent sense of longing for community and equality, from those in management positions right down to the homeless family trying to make a few quid for something to eat.

The movement sequences are powerful, particularly when in unison. Their frustration is hard to ignore when you see the physical toll it takes on the collective. The ensemble work together like a shoal of fish, they breathe and move as one. This is as elegant as a first dance at a wedding or akin to the rebellious movement of protest.

Sound, visual design and symbolism are integral to telling this story. There is minimal speech, which is appropriate for this run at the International Mime Festival. Most of how we interpret the story and the world of the show is down to large physical gesticulations, detailed sets and sound. The stage is decorated with small yellow flowers, just like the ones attached to the teddy bears at the beginning. They become a powerful symbol for resistance and unity. As each person gets closer to freedom from the state, they wear these as a part of their uniform and hand them out to audience members. These tokens transport us through birth, childhood, ceremony, corporate life and rebellion as the audience grows with the ensemble.

Gecko flirt with topical questions, such as asking if is it too late to break away from this miserable cycle, too late to choose love, and what will come after if we do. This type of theatre is truly innovative, enriching and essential for audiences to experience so that they may ask themselves these same questions in relation to their own lives.

The Wedding runs through 11 June 2022.

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