At Performance Works until November 29, 2015
Posted November 15, 2015
If some of us had spent half as much time on our marriages as we spent obsessing over our wedding dress, there might be more happy 60th wedding anniversaries. Thousands of hours and thousands of dollars are spent on this wear-once gown but, at the time, it seems so important.
I lost track of how many dresses (provided by costume designer Sheila White) Dee-Dee (Gili Roskies) tries out in Aaron Bushkowsky’s Dressing for a Wedding. It’s the night of the rehearsal and Dee-Dee’s mother Carolyn (Deborah Williams) wants everything to be absolutely perfect. Her own wedding was a bit of a bust – although she’s still married to Bob (Gary Jones) – so this is Carolyn’s big chance to do it right. After all, it’s costing her $32,000. And, as Carolyn says, “We’re so thrilled this is her first wedding and she’s not pregnant.” Dee-Dee doesn’t even want a big wedding. Something in the forest would be fine.
Seth, the groom, (Josh Drebit) seems to be completely out of it. Stoned maybe? Or drunk? Or maybe he’s just a bit dim. I mean, any guy who tells his soon-to-be-mother-in-law that she’s “a hottie, for your age” and that he likes her “boobs” is probably not good husband material.
Dressing for a Wedding is classic Bushkowsky: quirky, funny and dark in a kind of off-the-wall way. He’s smart and he quotes Oscar Wilde: “Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence”. (He doesn’t, however, complete the quote: “Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.” Bushkowsky himself found true love in his third marriage and, if he put his mind to it, he’d probably come up with a witty follow-up to Wilde about third marriages.) And there’s an abundance of pithy one-liners like, “An agnostic is just a closet atheist”.
None of these people seem to like each other. Dee-Dee and Carolyn are constantly sniping at each other; Carolyn and Bob are perpetually sparring; even Seth and Dee-Dee don’t seem to be getting along. Dee-Dee sums it all up by saying, “I feel like crap and I’m about to get married.”
If all of this isn’t sour enough, there’s an elephant in the room and it’s a really big one.
Yvan Morissette’s set is lovely with an arch of frosty, white crinkled paper. Lighting designer John Webber is creative with it, especially in the fantasy scenes and Emily Cooper – the amazingly talented Emily Cooper – splashes all that crinkled setting with colourful projections.
Sarah Rodgers, one of the busiest directors in town, directs for Solo Collective, now celebrating its 15th season. Sound designer Anton Lipovetsky brings music and song to Dressing for a Wedding with Roskies singing and playing guitar. After a little more than an hour of scrapping and making up, Roskies sings the Thompson Twins’ 1983 “Hold Me Now” but the probability of a happily ever after for Dee-Dee and Seth is slim to nothing. And the prospect for Carolyn and Bob isn’t much better.
This is a jagged little pill of a play: funny, sad, hopeless, hopeful – but not very. There are good performances and it’s good looking but the juxtaposition of contrary elements – what Bushkowsky is so good at – does not equal his wonderful My Chernobyl. It’s all just a bit sour, a bit nasty – in spite of the humour. Marital bliss looks like a long shot in spite of what passes for the various reconciliations: Carolyn and Bob, Dee-Dee and Carolyn, Dee-Dee and Seth. Oh, happy day.