BACHELORETTE shows girls gone wild

If only what happens at the BACHELORETTE party stayed at the bachelorette party. In this play, presented by Backyard Renaissance and playing at the Diversionary Black Box Theatre through April 1st, this hilarious dark comedy is one party that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

It should be noted that this play is one in the “seven deadly sins” series by playwright Leslye Headland. This play falls under the sin gluttony, and it revels in excess of all kinds: booze, drugs, gossip, and insults. What better way to explore this then with a bachelorette party?

Lauren King, Kay Marian McNellen, & Rin Ehlers Sheldon
Photo Credit: Daren Scott

As drama often does, it starts with three high school friends, Katie (Kay Marian McNellen), Gena (Lauren King), and Regan (Rin Ehlers Sheldon). They have gathered in a presidential suite of a hotel the night before the wedding of their other high school friend Becky (Samantha Vesco).

Regan, as the maid of honor, is able to use the room since Becky wouldn’t be staying in it, on the condition that Regan not invite Gena and Katie to come over. So of course that’s exactly what she does.

From there they all toast to the bride, and bitterly reflect on their less than perfect lives and how unfair it all is that Becky will be getting married first. There is a special kind of psychological warfare that happens amongst a group of girls (disclaimer: not all girls). Usually you don’t even find out it’s there, or what people actually think until a major life event happens.

See, Becky is a nice girl but she’s fat, she’s found love, and she’s happy. All of this is completely unacceptable to these three  and brings out the underlying inner bitterness and resentments of her so-called friends. As Katie and Gena pass around the booze and the cocaine, Regan complains ‘I was sure I was going to get married before her. But you know what? We don’t always get what we want.”

As one might expect from a night where the ladies drink, snort, and swallow pills, this night starts to unravel rather quickly. When Gena has to leave to repair something, Joe (Graham Ehlers Sheldon) and Jeff (Alex Guzman) two guys Regan just met and invited, come up and join the party.

This play is more than just a bacchanal though, as the night progresses the layers of each person start to peel away and they each start to see each other as they truly are. It explores how people put up a front to avoid letting themselves and the world know just what kind of people they have become. But this debauched frat party, drink until you “can’t bring the bottle up to your lips anymore” mentality is a scary nod to the reality of what happens when getting messed up turns into a coping mechanism and self-destruction seems like an actual option.

All of these people are damaged, and how they justify their behavior and why they’re like this is the real interesting story here. It’s a credit to Headland’s writing, the cast, and the direction under Anthony Methvin that the audience feels any empathy for these terrible people after everything that occurs.

Before it starts to sound like this story is more drama than comedy, rest assured that this show is funny. These 20-somethings are full of witty banter, snarky one liners, wise cracks, and dubitable relationship advice based on specific sex acts.

Kay Marian McNellen, is charming as Katie, the former prom queen who frets about her life and masks all that anxiety and self-doubt under a massive amount of booze and drugs. With her physicality as she falls off the couch, and runs around drunk, she makes Katie’s crazy descent charming and funny right up until it turns potentially heartbreaking.

As Katie’s best friend and partner in crime, Lauren King makes the coked up Gena both equally out of control and yet the most grounded and responsible of the trio. It’s only she who seems like a caretaker of any of these friendships and feelings, even the feelings of the bride who didn’t want her there in the first place.

Rin Ehlers Sheldon as Regan, is the Regina George of this trio (MEAN GIRLS, anyone?) as she kicks all of this off in the first place. Her jealousy and confusion about Becky’s marriage to a handsome and wealthy man makes her crazy. Rin keeps Regan just on this side of sympathetic (it would be so easy to make her unredeemable) as the curtain is pulled back to reveal the real person she was so desperate to hide.

Alex Guzman brings a welcome shot of lightness as a smooth and somewhat smarmy player who is out for what the night can bring him and nothing more. Graham Ehlers Sheldon is sweet as Jeff who doesn’t want to grow up, but is also the only one who truly knows the consequences of what is happening.

Samantha Vesco as the bride makes her appearance when this has all tumbled out of control and brings a lovely and grounded performance as Becky. It’s her dawning realization about how each of the trio act and why, and the understanding of what this knowledge brings that brings a satisfying feeling to these proceedings.

The set designed by Ri Ray, is a hotel suite full of light colors and clean lines and projecting a sense of cool and calm elegance; which makes it the perfect counterpoint to the emotional mess unfolding in it.

BACHELORETTE is a party you are invited to through April 1st. Be warned there is a lot of cursing, drinking, drugs, and adult situations in this play. This is not for the faint of heart; think of the movie BRIDESMAIDS for your threshold of girls behaving badly.

Presented by Backyard Renaissance and playing at the Diversionary Black Box Theatre, go to www.backyardrenissance.com for show time and ticket information.

 

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