EFR - Reviews of All Aboard the Marriage Hearse

All Aboard the Marriage Hearse

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Alice Harper

at 09:17 on 20th Aug 2016

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Sean and Amy arrive back at their apartment in Manhattan, having attended a friend’s wedding, and almost immediately a disagreement about their own marriage plans bursts into life. As the discussion progresses, and becomes an argument, other grievances come to the fore and we dig deeper into the different aspects of their relationship.

Far from being merely a fluffy romantic comedy, ‘All Aboard the Marriage Hearse’ really goes into depth about the institution of marriage. As a society, how have we come to view marriage? Does it have any actual relation to love, and how? Does a wedding have any real meaning nowadays, given the way most couples live together before they marry anyway? And what is the real reason behind the 50% divorce rate?

As Amy tries to convince Sean that marriage is the next natural step for them, and as he tries just as hard to convince her otherwise, these questions and many more are addressed. The role of religion and the ways in which parents influence their children are also explored through Sean’s relationship with his Mum and Dad. His mother in particular makes several appearances through phone conversations during the play. These moments are brilliantly funny and also a serious reminder of how much power parents have to shape their children’s view of the world.

Actors Jessica Moreno and Tom Pilutik both have the ability to bring a real depth of emotion to their roles, as well as possessing great comic timing. The characters are likeable and very believable; Sean is pragmatic and cynical while Amy is romantic and more impulsive, but it is clear that each truly cares about the other. Their relationship feels real, and the audience follows their exchanges with genuine concern for how the argument will resolve itself. At times, it feels as though the story isn't progressing very quickly or that some of the ideas are simply being repeated. However, by the end of the play the characters really do seem to have developed, and the conclusion is a satisfying one.

The theme of this show is recognisable and part of the everyday, but it is nonetheless important and told very well. Moreno and Pilutik’s performances are touching, funny and thought-provoking, providing a love story that is enjoyable to watch and questions the place of marriage in modern society.

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Anna Livesey

at 09:47 on 20th Aug 2016

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Judging by the average age in the theatre around me, I am shy of the target audience for ‘All Aboard the Marriage Hearse’ by about twenty years. So it’s a testament to the brilliance of the production that a play about a pair of thirtysomethings, and the pros and cons of getting married, still had me hooked throughout.

The play is an extended and detailed examination of the institution of marriage: over an hour and fifteen minutes, and in one simple room, Amy and Sean debate fiercely every possible positive and negative of their getting, or not getting hitched. I did not find myself bored, however. Matt Morillo’s original script is just pacey enough to hold its audience’s attention throughout.

This is a very slick dialogue, and the whole show feels like a tightly-oiled machine. Morillo, again, deserves recognition for what is obviously very sensitive directing, and his script is brought to life by two incredibly talented actors. Looking at the dense pair of bios that introduce us to Jessica Moreno and Tom Pilutik, it is not tricky to see how these two came to such a flawless performance: they must be some of the most qualified actors at the Fringe. Certainly, we profit from it here, and the two make an utterly convincing pair.

Only one thing niggles me. I cannot help but feel frustrated at how easily the play falls into gendered stereotypes: Amy is the sentimentalist fighting the pro-marriage corner, while Sean takes all the cynical rhetoric. He is the high-flying journalist, she is the teacher. I found myself wondering if the play might have been more challenging had it switched these roles and pushed the “anti-establishment” line that is, as yet, only gestured to. On the other hand, Morillo is evidently aware of these issues and does make an attempt to address them: Sean acknowledges that the white wedding dream is a pressure that he has never experienced.

This does not detract from the overwhelming energy and skill of the production. Morillo is evidently as seasoned a director as he is a writer. The pace, timing, and staging of 'All Aboard the Marriage Hearse' are all executed to perfection.

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