Written by JD Stewart
Directed by Kenny Miller
Commendable, a word tossed around often with little weight or relevance, but in the words of the Traverse; “The Show Goes On”. And after two of Daniel Getting Married’s cast members are down with Covid, Emily Winters and Michael Dylan arrive with a commendable call to action, and even with script in hand maintains the smoothness of the production rather remarkably.
Tying them together mercifully, Neil John Gibson as the titular Daniel remains onstage, becoming a focal point for Winters and Dylan to work off and dock themselves to – Dylan, in particular, carrying over the necessary chemistry and emotional stability to steady JD Stewart’s script. And it all speaks to Kenny Miller’s direction, as both Winters and Dylan take to the production with surprising ease (Dylan is more comfortable than someone with a thrust upon script has any right to be).
The story opens around fifty minutes before Daniel is due to marry his partner Zach, waiting somewhere in the church for his beloved. Narratives confining themselves to a live-time piece, with no dips running the risk of losing control, Miller’s direction staves this off for the most part but loses steam later. Sympathetic, fraught with insecurities, Gibson is strikingly believable and authentic. His flurries of happiness and discomfort ripple naturally, especially as Gabriel, his ex, re-enters the scene.
Wandering down the garden path, away from the proverbial aisle, Stewart’s plot thread takes Daniel and Gabriel’s troubled past and slams it directly in opposition to the relationship Daniel speaks fondly of with Zach. Though the deceit becomes clear, as Daniel’s conversations with his mother seem more than traditional wedding jitters. Cold feet are present, but the frost is not for the ceremony itself, but for what it represents. Daniel sees this big gay wedding as the biggest, boldest and best ‘fuck you’ to the heteronormative society who bullied and mocked his initial coming out – but who now see this as the wedding of the decade, the chance to appear at this big ol’ queer knees up.
And where the cry for justifiable treatment is a welcome call, its entreaty and guttural roar from Daniel sits peculiarly in the confines of the story – particularly as the drama progresses, where it peters out to nothing. The quandary of utilising marriage, something denied for so long to so many, as a tool of retribution rather than adoration is a clever, understandable choice to make, but isn’t invested enough into and dropped rather quickly as the romantic angle takes over once more.
It forces the most recent presentation for Traverse audiences to feel underdone compared to the rest of the Play, Pie & Pint productions. Perhaps down to the necessity of subbed in performers who valiantly attempt to take the direction of the piece, but the pacing accelerates and dips in odd mannerisms. It pushes the production to the half-hour with ease, but begins to lose steam towards the end, going around in circles as Gabriel and Daniel go over their shortcomings repeatedly.
Filling the parts of Ann Louise Ross and Kristopher Bosch, there is nothing but praise for Winters and Dylan for the short turnaround, and the charm with which they take to the stage. Winters aids the dialogue, offering quick quips of comedy and intensifying Gibson’s heartfelt performance. But this all in mind, Daniel Getting Married is a mere slice of the usual Play, Pie and Pint quality – charming and engaging, but leaving the audience peckish for more.
Daniel Getting Married runs at the Traverse Theatre until April 9th. Tickets for which can be obtained here.