|Devin Rodger as Mindy|
Now playing at Harlequin Productions is the Alan Ball comedy Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. Known for dark and sophisticated comedies such as the film American Beauty and the HBO series “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood,” Ball has given us lighter fare with Five Woman. But there are moments of darkness and high seriousness scattered throughout this light romantic comedy. There is talk of abortion and there are graphic discussions of sex; fundamentalist Christians are condemned, and the F-bomb frequently explodes.
Set during a wedding reception in the Southern city of Knoxville, Tenn., it could be any suburban setting, as these Southern belles are quite metropolitan, sophisticated and definitely unconventional.
Five bridesmaids try to escape the tedium of a wedding reception by hiding out in the bedroom of Meredith (Maggie Lofquist), the bride's sarcastic, pot-smoking younger sister. As they come and go, get drunk, and talk to each other, their many loves, hurts and foibles are exposed.
Georgeanne (Lorrie Fargo) may be the most jaded of the five, and the drunkest. Being in a wedding is painful for her because her own marriage is on the rocks, and this doubly painful wedding reminds her that she once aborted a child fathered by the groom.
Trisha (Laura Hanson) admits, rather casually, to having slept with close to a hundred men. She’s funny, down-to-earth and compassionate.
Frances (Korja Giles) is the youngest of the bridesmaids. She is innocent, naive, and a fundamentalist Christian who is saving herself for marriage. The other women poke fun at her until the teasing erupts into a bitter squabble about religion. Mindy (Devin Rodger), is the groom’s wisecracking lesbian sister who may be the most feminine of the five women, having gone to charm school and been in beauty pageants — her take-off on a beauty pageant contestant is one of the funniest bits in the play.
Ball’s writing is witty, and all five of the women actors are outstanding. They inhabit their characters naturally. There is also one male actor, Bruce Haasl, who appears in only one brief scene near the end, but he is entertaining as the womanizer Tripp, who proves some hidden depth to his character.
Although written in 1993, Harlequin has updated the play to include references to contemporary news events such as the killing of Travon Martin. Meredith has a poster on her wall with Travon’s picture, and she is berated for being an armchair activist, spouting radical causes but not willing to get out on the streets in demonstrations.
Kudos to Aaron Lamb for a commendable job in his directing debut.
Coming up: reviews of Hollywood Who Done It at Pelligrino's Event Center and Last of the Red Hot Lovers at Olympia Little Theatre.
WHAT: Five Women Wearing the Same Dress
WHEN: Thursdays through Saturdays, 8p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. through Sept. 8
WHERE: State Theater, 202 E. 4th Ave., Olympia
TICKETS: $32, $28 seniors and military, $20 students, discounted rush tickets a half-hour prior to curtain
INFORMATION: 360-786-0151; http://www.harlequinproductions.org/