Chrlotte Hammett Hubrich, Ann Meyer, Michelle Chalmers, Julie Streble,
Alice Chiles & Diane Strez-Thurmond in Always A Bridesmaid
Photo-Eve Theatre Co.
Always A Bridesmaid
By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten
Directed by Kate Scinta
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Sassy Southern-fried comedies have become a staple of community theatre ever since the coming of Steel Magnolias in the 1980’s, and the most prolific purveyors of the sub-genre are undoubtedly Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. Dixie Swim Club, ‘Til Beth Do Us Part and Christmas Belles are popular choices that have been seen on local stages in the last two years. Now Eve Theatre Company brings us Always A Bridesmaid to close their 2nd season.
Four close friends, the long-married Libby Ruth (Ann Meyer) and Deedra (Michelle Chalmers), the frequently married Monette (Charlotte Hammett Hubrich), and the never married Charlie (Diane Stretz-Thurmond) have come to historic Laurelton Oaks in Virginia for Monette’s latest trip down the aisle. All have vowed to always be in each other’s weddings at the venerable establishment, operated by Sedalia Ellicott (Alice Chiles).
Each of the four scenes, which span a period of seven years, takes place at the latest nuptials, and I won’t spoil the fun by talking about who gets married in each scene, but the device is mined deeply for visual gags about the range of hideous and unfortunate bridesmaid’s dresses they have encountered over the years. No credit is given for the perfect costume and set design, so we must assume it was an ensemble effort.
Last minute nerves and unexpected revelations are the easy plot choices offered, and the director, Kate Scinta keeps things moving at a good pace that makes the most of the sharp comic timing exhibited by the perfectly cast ensemble. A framing device between scenes of a young bride drunkenly addressing the attendees at her own wedding actually has some of the best lines, and is delivered with verve by Julie Streble.
The authors have honed their style to a fine point, although I found this particular script to be slightly more predictable than others in their canon, but comfortable assurance is a key element in their work, so predictability becomes common currency. They also don’t dig very deep in fashioning these broadly drawn characters. This is light, unsubtle, sit-com style humor, so if you were a fan of Designing Women or The Golden Girls (Jamie Wooten was one of the writers) then this is the play for you
Still, for all its one-dimensionality, this is a play about traditional marriage and infidelity presented at a time when there is a conversation about that very topic that is, I daresay, on the mind of every American citizen. While I hesitate to get all “blue state” about it, I could not help but reflect on the sometimes cavalier attitude towards marriage exhibited by these characters, and a scenario which doesn’t hold out a lot of hope for “till death do us part” between men and women. The play is not a recent one, predating the current socio-political debate about marriage equality by several years, so there is no question of the author’s having anything on their mind but entertainment, yet their observations about cultural attitudes and deeply held traditions are not pulled out of thin air, and are only more securely founded by their predictability. It lends this frothy comedy, which otherwise wears its heart determinedly on its sleeve, an unexpectedly thoughtful subtext.
Always A Bridesmaid
May 22-June 1, 2014
Eve Theatre Company
At the Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205