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Gogol's Marriage in Ealing

How appropriate to see Nikolai Gogol's comedy Marriage after reading Liz Hodgkinson's book "Happy to be single", for they both poke fun at the institution called marriage. The Ealing-based acting company "4th Wall" made Gogol's play come alive with Chris Storer's original lyrics and music. Chris himself played the part of the devilish male matchmaker, who wanted his bachelor friend to experience the similar misfortune of getting match-made and married.

The father of Russian comedy, Nikolai Gogol illustrated the ideals of single men and women who eventually desired marriage. I say "eventually" because it seems that men only reach this conclusion after all other options have been exercised. Back in those days, women had the choice of the match. They could be plump, unappealing, and even undesirable, but as long as men outnumbered women, they had the choice. These days, of course, it's quite the opposite.

The studio of the Questor's Theatre in Ealing seats about 70 people, depending upon the way the chairs are arranged. In the dark, intimate theatre, the pianist appears. He plays the upright piano from memory. Or rather, he improvises a distinctively Russian theme. The lights change and shine on a solitary man lying on a chair-like bed. The pianist presses a single key on the synthesizer and the door creaks open. The servant emerges. Or rather, the director John Horwood appears as the servant. Later he reappears as one of the crazy, unwanted suitors.

Those of us that have never been married can relate to the idealisation of the opposite sex. Is he handsome? Is he rich? Is he nice? So the fat becomes the stocky. The man of independent means becomes rich. The female matchmaker is the quintessential storyteller and businesswoman who tries to please both sides. And how easily convinced we are, in our fantasies of the opposite sex. We forget that they are just ordinary people. As the audience, however, we see what caricatures they are.

It's hard to believe these are mainly amateur actors who took time out to rehearse. It's hard to believe that the music is an original score, never played before. It's hard to believe there is so much talent in the London Borough of Ealing.

The conclusion? Go see it before it's too late. It runs every night except Monday until and including 14th September. You'll have the laugh of your life. Whether you're single, married, or divorced, you will love it! For truly, music, singing, and acting have brought Gogol's Marriage back to life! And what's better than live acting?

4 September 2002 Wednesday

Questor's Theatre
The 4th Wall Musical Theatre Company
I called 0208 621 8526 to book my ticket. And then I picked it up before the show, which started at 8 pm.
£8 or £6 concession
related Bon Journal
23 Mar 2002 The passion of amateurs
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