Bridesmaids bond over their collective dislike of the bride in CAT’s Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, at the Nickle Studio in Red Deer.

Review: CAT’s Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, an intriguing fly-on-the-wall experience

Great performances in this slice-of-life comedy

The most fascinating wedding antics don’t necessarily unfold at the altar.

If you’re looking for juicy gossip, racy language, or copious drug and alcohol consumption, you’ll find it in the upstairs bedroom of the bride’s sister, Meredith, in the play Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.

The Central Alberta Theatre dramedy by American Beauty writer Alan Ball — running at the Nickle Studio, upstairs at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre — concerns five bridesmaids. Four are reluctant members of the wedding party and one is a wide-eyed naif.

The women are mostly hiding, in their hideous finery, from bridezilla Tracy, her hen-pecked groom Scott, and all the nicey-nicey wedding guests — at least until the bar opens at the downstairs reception.

Aforementioned Meredith (Alex Taylor) loves trash-talking her ‘perfect’ older sister.

There’s also the bride’s friends from college: Jaded and promiscuous Trisha (Nicole Leal), and Tracy’s self-proclaimed “ugly side-kick” Georgeanne (Tara Rorke), who’s stuck in an unhappy marriage.

And there’s Mindy (Ashley Mercia), the lesbian sister of the groom, and Frances (Kirstin Merriman) the bride’s naive Christian cousin. She’s the only one of the five who actually admires the teal and aqua dresses they are wearing, complete with (shudder) enormous ’90s shoulder bows.

As the bridesmaids bond over their general dislike of the self-centred bride, their meandering discussions bring up lot of issues, including religious intolerance and homophobia, sexual abuse, abortion, infidelity and the meaning of love.

While the script occasionally gives the curious feeling of eaves-dropping on private, gossipy conversations, the best part of this play, directed by Craig Scott, are the performances.

The five female actors and one male (Paul Sutherland as groomsman Tripp), are believable as a bunch of peripherally connected people, whose exposure to mind-altering substances in the circus-like, intense wedding atmosphere, cause each to go off on small journeys of self-reflection.

Nothing huge happens in Meredith’s bedroom, and women will relate better than men to the plot line that tends to get bogged down in wordiness towards the end. Still, viewing, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress is kind of like people-watching at a wedding reception — an interesting fly-on-the-wall experience that’s also occasionally hilarious.

When it’s mentioned how “in love” Scott is with Tracy, an unimpressed Meredith deadpans: “Any dog loves its master.”

The play continues to April 7. (A dollar from each ticket will go to the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.)

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