“Honestly you ought to be ashamed of yourselves!”- Frances, Five Women Wearing The Same Dress
It is 1993 and five young women hide out in an upstairs bedroom discussing love during the lavish wedding reception of a Knoxville, Tennessee bride/debutante named Tracy Marlowe. The problem? The women are her bridesmaids and they intensely dislike her; in fact they wonder why on earth they were included in the garish festivities considering how they have all, at one time, had a relationship or at least been cruised by the same man, a true Southern Cad named Tommy Valentine.
This is the premise of the play I am currently producing, Five Women Wearing The Same Dress, by Alan Ball, the acclaimed screenwriter behind American Beauty, True Blood and Six Feet Under. The play is a dark comedy; complex with directorial challenges that Angela Lavender has successfully tackled while skilfully bringing out inspired and unique performances by the accomplished actresses Ashley Plomp, Elana Bizovie, Kendra Hesketh , Hilary Omoe, and Celeste Cameron as well as the lone male in the cast, Graham Daley, who plays a wayward groomsman who finds an unusual connection with one of the bridesmaids.
The dialogue is tough and really rough, sometimes downright vulgar. It is Ball’s style to be very explicit and straight forward about sex (we had to put a warning on all of our posters) and the actors are all required to say and do things that are out of their comfort zone, but are necessary in the telling of this story. It is truly a test for each and every one of these actors and I am proud of how they have taken the characters and made them all real. By the end of the play you definitely come to care for each character despite their frailties and at times, questionable words and actions.
The fact that this play is set in 1993 is of particular significance for me because that is the year I got married to my high school sweetheart, Derek. I was definitely not a debutante, just a high school theatre teacher in Olds, Alberta and our colors were dusty rose and country blue, not such a far cry from the bridezilla in Five Women’s demand that everything be peach - from the bridemaids’ hats to their hideous shoes. My bridesmaids included all my of best friends and although we don’t all get together that much anymore I still stay in contact with all of them. My Maid of Honor is coming from Calgary and will be at the show on Friday night. Thankfully my wedding is not the one depicted on stage.
The late 80’s and 90’s may not have been a period of time that is known for its’ iconic fashion, but it is certainly known as being the time period when the façade of “the perfect life & wife” was being openly challenged, along with many other former taboo subjects such as beauty, ethnicity, drug use, HIV/AIDS,. child abuse and homosexuality. Perhaps brides today are more likely to have a true partner in life because of the efforts of the women who inspired Ball’s Five Women –those who refuse to just politely go along with society and insisted on kicking off those “peach adorned high heels” to be themselves.
Five Women Wearing The Same Dress runs from May 14-16 at The Black Box Theatre, Kelowna. This run is now sold out! Guests are invited to wear old bridesmaid dresses, grad gowns and tuxes to be entered into a door prize draw & cake will be served courtesy of Kakes By Kathie and The Wedding Cafe. Doors open at 6:45pm, Show at 7:30pm. For tickets and info for upcoming plays, check out www.newvintage.ca