The Happiest Day of Brendan Smilie's Life

The Happiest Day of Brendan Smillie's Life opens on sweet, strange Brendan (Ross Allan) who, with the aid of labelled paper plates, is attempting to design the optimal buffet arrangement. He is soon joined by eccentric wedding planner Jenny (Cat Grozier), who has brought over his wedding trousers to try on before his big day. All goes swimmingly until Brendan's straight-laced brother Liam (Steven Duffy) finds out about the wedding.

Catherine Grosvenor's new play is clearly intended to be a light-hearted, whimsical romp and, from time to time, it achieves this.

Catherine Grosvenor's new play is clearly intended to be a light-hearted, whimsical romp and, from time to time, it achieves this. There are some enjoyable set-pieces, and a few nice bits of character acting. Generally, however, the production falls short of its ambitions. Part of the problem is the tone. In some respects, it seems to be aimed at quite a young audience; the style of delivery the actors use, the costumes, and the nature of a lot of the jokes support this impression. However, the play has some adult themes and a few jokes that certainly wouldn't be found in a children's play. The end result is a show that feels neither here nor there.

The play steers well clear of emotional depth and complexity, instead focusing on being a silly, funny play. This is, of course, an entirely valid decision, but it is a risky one. Without any real substance in the form of, for example, an emotional subtext or complex characters, the play is left to rely on its jokes. While there are plenty of these, some of them very strong, for the most part they are not quite funny enough to carry the play, and the result is that the whole thing ends up feeling a bit flat.

The cast generally use their talents to convey the childlike tone. Allan is very strong as Brendan, managing the silly sections with skill, but also conveying little hints of a person with real developmental problems as well. He is subtle and convincing. Grozier and Duffy are both playing more archetypical roles, and they both make the most of their unusual characters.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

Brendan Smillie leads a quiet life, closely monitored by his protective older brother, Liam. But Brendan has a secret Liam knows nothing about – he’s getting married. He’s enlisted the help of wedding planner extraordinaire Jenny Jones to make his dream day come true. But what will happen when Liam finds out? And why is Brendan being so cagey about his bride’s identity? A tender, off beat comedy about life, love and llamas.