John Finnemore’s Double Acts: The Rebel Alliance. Radio Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Una Stubbs, Tamzin Outhwaite.

Somewhere on a table at a wedding reception far away, sits those to whom were always the last to be invited, the ones to whom a small sense of gratitude is permanently and grudgingly displayed, nobody perhaps wants them there, the sense of embarrassment that they might bring to the proceedings outweighing the debt owed, and yet, there they sit, grateful for any small morsel of thanks that the organisers believe they deserve. For this, The Rebel Alliance, it is always surprising that any wedding they don’t make more of the opportunity to be the scene that many hope they would, with devilishly twinkling eyes, be.

In John Finnemore’s Double Acts series, The Rebel Alliance is such that it embraces 21st Century appreciation and acceptance of the gay wedding but acknowledges with great humour that even then not everybody is happy to be there, on “loser’s table and close to the toilets”.

For different reasons Eileen and Lizzie are determined to enjoy the wedding but as mother of one of the brides and who has been relegated down to the pecking order and the woman to whom was cast aside in favour of the other bride’s mother’s daughter, enjoyment comes with the cost of having the realisation that they are not welcome, that only out of duty does their presence feel wanted.

Both Una Stubbs and Tamzin Outhwaite are on fire in this particular episode of two-hander comedy written by John Finnemore, an episode that strikes away from the normal pattern of insightful comedy and adds even more social realism to an event which is ripe for gallows humour and the beauty of truth and dishonour that comes out of such tightly packed and involved situations; after all who doesn’t sneakily relish the prospect of a scandal or the wrong thing said at a wedding, it is the faux pas that keeps giving.

Tamzin Outhwaite gives a fiery performance as the spurned ex, full of mischief and undertones of regret, so much so that like her appearance at the Haymarket Theatre in How The Other Half Loves, the craving for more is insatiable, it is a character to which she really sinks her teeth into and with great passion.

A wonderful comedy of embarrassment and social etiquette turned sour and with sweet response thrown in, The Rebel Alliance is strong on force and precision.

Ian D. Hall