All Aboard the Marriage Hearse

The woman wants to marry, the man does not. But don’t groan yet - Matt Morillo’s All Aboard the Marriage Hearse isn’t as clichéd as it sounds.

The script is clever and thought-provoking, the back-and-forth dialogue witty and the performances by the two actors excellent.

The guy (Sean) is not afraid of the usual bogeymen named ‘monogamy’ and ‘commitment’; rather he’s ideologically opposed to the institution of marriage that of which he has sniped for years within his magazine column. His girlfriend Amy - in keeping with Newton’s First Law of Romance ‘opposites attract’ - is absolutely enamoured by the idea of matrimony. Both are adamant about not changing their minds.

At the start of the play, our couple have returned to their home after a friend’s wedding and, fueled by a day’s merriment, a bottle of cheap white wine and a little too much whiskey, the two of them are soon at each other’s throats, bickering over the possibility of them getting married. We watch as the quarrel escalates, is abandoned (for half a moment), resumed, derailed, re-railed, then driven off a cliff.

The play is almost entirely, but not quite, one huge argument. Thankfully it’s quite an interesting debate, and one which poses many questions. ‘What, really, is the benefit of getting married nowadays? Millions still marry, of course, but half of them get divorced. How do you know when you’ve found ‘The One’? Should soulmates even need a legal bond? And as a species who invented this custom back when it was rare to live past 40, is ‘till death do us part’ not just a tad ambitious anyway?’

These questions and more are thoroughly interrogated over the course of the play; a little too thoroughly, if anything, at times. Amy and Sean seemed to be mouthpieces first, actual characters second, their status as pawns in the dialogic essay Morillo wanted to write taking precedence over believable characterisation.

These characters, mouthpieces or not, are brought vividly to life by Tom Pilutik and Jessica Moreno. Pilutik’s performance as the self-confident, hyper-cynical Sean is accomplished but it was Moreno’s optimistic, fiery Amy that stole the show. Moreno’s range was astonishing, her performance as polished in moments of broad comedy as well as instances of stark poignancy.

All Aboard the Marriage Hearse is a play of ideas of which the ideas have slightly too tight a grip. Morillo, focused on the intellectual, forgets to properly secure our emotional investment. Nevertheless, the script is clever and thought-provoking, the back-and-forth dialogue witty and the performances by the two actors excellent. It could be worth a watch before you order the wedding cake.

Reviews by Jamie P Robson

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The Blurb

Sean and Amy are your typical cohabiting, Catholic/Jewish, thirty-something couple living in Manhattan. After four years together, Amy wants to get married but Sean doesn't believe in the institution. The game is on! Tonight the pair will settle the marriage question once and for all. Sean will try to talk her out of it. Amy will try to talk him into it. Will they breakup? Will they climb aboard the Marriage Hearse? Don't miss this internationally acclaimed romantic comedy by Matt Morillo and the team behind The Inventor and the Escort and Angry Young Women.