According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Wedding Play

Modern weddings are crazy—everything must go exactly as planned or else. In the world premiere of Brian MacInnis Smallwood's The Wedding Play, disasters abound. To add to the wedding stress, two friends are fighting over the bride's twin sisters. Forget “Here Comes the Bride”: may the best man win. The odd mix of frivolity and seriousness show that it is difficult to have cake and it eat it too.

Reviewed by Amy Freeman

In life, things rarely go according to plan. This is especially true of weddings, and particularly true in the case of the Sara Desario's wedding. The minister is trapped in a foreign country due to a war, the flowers are mangled, the string quintet is actually a punk band, and a stripper sits atop the wedding cake. Most importantly, the groom has not arrived yet. However, the wedding hijinks take a backseat to the story of Dan and Clara in Brian MacInnis Smallwood's pretty funny but ultimately confused The Wedding Play.

Clara met Dan on “Facespace,” an online dating service, and has been e-mailing him for nearly a year. Unfortunately, Clara’s twin sister, Zoe, hates Dan, so unless Dan’s friend, Nick, can distract her (or hook up with her), he’ll never really get the girl. At first, things seem to go well, but it soon becomes clear that Zoe, who claims the strong bonds of sisterhood, refuses to let Clara live without her.

Between the wedding's disasters and Dan's problems, the play is bursting at the seams with slapstick and farce. The resolution is then postponed, stretching in order to get more cheap laughs. The comedy obscures the pain of the characters to such an extent that it doesn't allow much sympathy for the characters. If the play were all fluff and superficiality, this would be fine. But the occasional digs at illuminating the notion of love suggest that the play wants to go deeper than its shallow roots.

What makes the show worth watching is Lindsay Wolf's portrayal of Clara, Zoe, and a confused delivery girl. Wolf succeeds in creating a different persona for each of her characters—sweet, shy Clara walks with a light step and speaks with a delicate voice while Zoe stomps, swinging her arms and speaking in a low, husky tone. Wolf doesn’t steal the show: she is the show, and she pulls attention away from her sister's mangled wedding to her characters' myriad issues and personalities.

The Wedding Play is enjoyable in its ridiculous frivolity. However, it throws too many things into the mix and ends up with a message similar to that of a drunken best man's speech—what is it trying to say? The confusing resolution just doesn’t fit with the tone of the play as a whole: it tries to teach a serious lesson while making the audience laugh, but it can’t have its cake and eat it too. Even the most disastrous weddings only have one bride, one groom, and one overarching theme. The Wedding Play, with its multiple personalities and ambiguous focus, does too much.

The Wedding Play (2 hours)
The 14
th Street Y Theater (344 E 14th Street, 2nd Floor)
Tickets ( $10-15
Performances (through 7/27): Wed-Sat at 8PM, Sat and Sun at 3PM (no show 7/16, no 3pm show 7/12)

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