Left to right, Laura Luongo (Mindy), Melanie Preston (Georgeanne), Michelle Weisbom (Meredith), Devon Oakander (Tripp), Christine Reinfort (Trisha) and Yvette Benson (Frances) in Metro Theatre’s production of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. (photo by Tracy-Lynn Chernaske)
The wedding reception thrown by Metro Theatre Vancouver will be one of the most engaging and fun that you’ve attended – without the hangover or other morning-after regrets. Well, not necessarily, anyway.
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress is at Metro to March 12 and it is well worth seeing. Not only will you be supporting a wonderful theatre space but some very entertaining theatre, as well.
Two Jewish community members are among the five women at this over-the-top Knoxville, Tenn., wedding – Michelle Weisbom as Meredith and Melanie Preston as Georgeanne. Meredith is the younger sister of the bride, Tracy, who none of the bridesmaids, including Meredith, like. Georgeanne was a friend of Tracy’s in high school but Tracy’s then fiancé, Tommy, caused a lasting rift. And Tommy is a recurrent topic among the bridesmaids – he is what you would call a real shmuck.
We meet the bridesmaids after the wedding, just as the reception at Tracy’s parents’ home is starting. The women are decked out in teal sleeveless taffeta dresses that wouldn’t look half bad but for the huge sash with a bow that wraps about the butt, and the hat with a bow to match.
Frances (Yvette Benson) is the first to take refuge in Meredith’s bedroom. Tracy and Meredith’s cousin, Frances is a believer, and every time she is offered a drink, a smoke, a joint, she declines, giving as her reason, “I’m a Christian.” One of the best exchanges in the play is between Frances and Trisha (Christine Reinfort), another former high school friend of the bride, who describes herself as “the reigning queen of the bad rep.” They argue about the difference between having the right to an opinion versus imposing your opinion on others, and Frances’ accusation at one point, “That is secular humanism talking!” is hilarious – and thought-provoking – in context.
Rounding out the bridal party is the groom’s sister, Mindy (Laura Luongo). A lesbian whose coming out was almost universally poorly received, except by her cousin Tripp, Mindy is high-strung and somewhat defensive. She is also clumsy and a compulsive eater, at least in stressful situations, which this wedding is for her and her fellow bridesmaids.
The one man in the cast is Tripp (Devon Oakander), who we meet late in the play, though we hear about him earlier, as Trisha finds him attractive and talks about him with the other women. She tries to resist his charms, as she has slept with many, many men to date and been hurt many times. The scene between Trisha and Tripp is delightful, though it is one spot at which the play loses a bit of its momentum. It is unclear why playwright Alan Ball (whose credits include American Dream, True Blood, Six Feet Under) needed have a male character in the play at all. Perhaps to defend his sex? Show clearly that there are some good men out there?
The only criticisms of Metro’s Five Women lie with the writer. He touches on a number of themes – religion, homophobia, AIDS, sexual abuse, drug use, race, wealth, etc. – and the points are sometimes lost. As well, there are a few moments where the story drags a bit. But director Don Briard has done a fantastic job with this production overall. All of the actors have just enough of a Southern twang that the play is well-situated geographically, and the set of the play, which premièred in 1993, puts it firmly in its temporal space. The actors have a great chemistry and interact with each other convincingly. You really will feel as if you’re the sixth bridesmaid in the room – though much more comfortably dressed.
Five Women is recommended for audiences age 16+. For tickets ($24/$21, two for $35 every Thursday), call 604-266-7191 or visit metrotheatre.com.