Theater Review: Five Women Wearing the Same Dress—The bridesmaids rule at NAT

Maria Barwegan, Katie Johnston, Makeesha Sharp, Marissa Noel Swanson, and Jeny Wasilewski are the bridesmaids. Five women revealing their secrets, dishing the bride, and discovering that they have shared unscrupulous men. The primarily pink bedroom of Meredith, the youngest of the group and sister of the unseen bride, is the setting for their often hilarious conversations. Underlying the frivolity, a sense of survival emerges, their inherent strength a common denominator.

Tony Vezner’s choice of a controversial work brings a sense of sophistication to New American Theater. Speaking the language of a real world, we find tragedy is often expressed in the words of the street. Only in the most private of spaces are women allowed to so speak.

Swanson as Trisha, a woman of the world, shares her life and counsels Meredith. Johnston plays a defiant young woman damaged and refusing to accept the truth. As Frances, Sharp, born again and vocally proclaiming her beliefs, changes radically in the course of the play, while Barwegan as Georgeanne, finds solace in a bottle of champagne. As Mindy, Wasilewski represents a changing world in the sexual revolution. A lesbian in Knoxville, Tenn., does not lead a simple life.

Playwright Alan Ball, best known for film and television and a Georgia native, knows the South, and Five Women Wearing the Same Dress is in that genre. Women are expected to be “good girls,” but times are changing. The high point of comedy occurs as Sharp enters the stage in her bridesmaid’s regalia. W. Alan Williams creates the most outrageous gowns. Only an unthinking bride would require her attendants to be so ridiculously attired. Artificial flowers must have consumed much of the costume budget. Layers of fabric, ribbons and bows comprise the design—perfect.

The program warns: “This play contains brief nudity, smoking, and adult content.” It is not Sex in the City, but be prepared for graphic content. An adult production for adults, it provides an evening of fine theater. Running through April 3, tickets are available at the box office–964-6282.

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