You would have to have a very hard heart to fail to be touched by this delightful performance, the best advertisement for community theatre I can imagine. There is a touch of the Richard Curtis about it all: the wedding is the initial focal point and love is certainly all around, but there is a clever addition to the story line.
We are met by the groom Richard (played by Adam Farrell), and immediately the whole audience is involved as guests at the imminent nuptials. Selfies are taken, memories and connections shared, and I for one was completely engaged. Farell is a complete natural in the part, very personable, and so at ease with the audience that you cannot fail to like him.
On the surface it seems as if this is a simple and straightforward formula: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love and marriage inevitably follows (albeit rather quickly). But there is much, much more to be revealed as the story beneath the story begins to unfold. There is heavy emphasis on the importance of family tradition and love; indeed, the division between the family traditions is the key to the story.
The idea of a storyline involving time travel is always going to be a risk. You have to play the part with such conviction that it leaves no room for doubt, and convince your audience so skilfully that they will suspend their disbelief and go along with things. This is no easy task, but James Petherick as the father of the bride Peter achieves it seemingly effortlessly. There are strong performances from the two female actors too. Samantha Honey as Hilary achieves a great portrayal of the over bearing Mother from hell; her neurosis and eventual transition is a joy to watch. And Noor Lawson, as the June of the title, creates the perfect balance with Farell. The dialogue flows perfectly, and the connection between them feels real.
There were many details I really liked about this production, including the musical rendition that repeated itself at poignant moments: Petherick has a soporific voice which suited the church so well. I also loved the idea of the split venue, as literally moving the audience helped to create the illusion of the change in time. The inclusivity of the audience interactions was also a pleasure to experience. The cast left nobody out: even the youngest members of the audience were involved in some way.
There are of course some serious messages amongst all the humour and fast-moving action, about how you always need to remember what is important in life – and look after what you've got, for love and loss go hand in hand. And that you should always seize the day, for tomorrow may never come.
There is a sincere generosity about this performance from start to finish, a heartfelt, warm and feel-good piece of theatre which left me smiling for hours afterwards. It was delightful, touching and above all entertaining… so if it ever returns at a future festival, be sure you get yourself to the church on time.