Sections

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Most weddings are all about the bride - her dress, her hair, her flowers. Sometimes there’s a passing glance at the groom. But in Alan Ball’s play, "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," the wedding is all about the guests - or at least about the five women who take refuge in the sister of the bride’s upstairs bedroom while the festivities continue below.

"Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," first produced by the Manhattan Class Company in 1993, is now on stage at The Impact Theatre under the direction of Daniel Angus Cox, who recently directed Impact Theatre’s "The Tenth Man."

In this play, Ball exhibits the same concerns that were further developed in his script for the film "American Beauty" - the futility and meaninglessness of life in late-20th century America.

Although Scott and Tracy are the presumably happy couple, we never see them. Instead, we are introduced to a crew of neurotic women with a penchant for getting involved with the wrong man or with no man at all.

Meredith (the excellent Kira Jelincic) is Tracy’s rebellious younger sister who is confused about everything except the fact that she doesn’t like much of anything. Trisha, sensitively portrayed by Toni Kasper, is the town slut who aspires to nothing more than sex, drugs and one-night stands. Georgeanne, (the funny and sad Valerie Gilbert) who is stuck in a loveless and sexless marriage, is the willing victim of a man who continues to prey on her vulnerability.

Mindy (Christine Drayer) is the sister of the groom, an out-of-the-closet lesbian who is loud, funny and the most clear-sighted of the whole bunch.

And Frances (the very convincing Michelle Mullins) is a Christian, as she’ll tell anyone willing to listen, a young lady almost ridiculous in her sincerity and devotion.

These five women, all members of the bridal party, wear dresses they don’t like and are celebrating the nuptials of people they either detest or don’t really know.

Trisha and Georgeanne bear old grudges over stolen boyfriends. Mindy carries a new grudge engendered when Tracy refuses to allow her lover to come to the reception. Meredith seems determined to create havoc for reasons that are never fully explained. And Frances is mostly interested in how to seduce or let herself be seduced, by the young lawyer who is tending bar, in a way that’s suitable to her Christian upbringing.

If by now there’s still anyone who hasn’t thought, "This sounds a lot like Tennessee Williams," let’s add that the play takes place in Knoxville, Tenn., and the women all talk in southern drawls that roam from sassy to sweet, always with a suggestive undertone.

Indeed Ball, with his dry wit, ever-present sensuality and focus on the female psyche, is squarely in the tradition of Williams, William Inge and Eugene O’Neill - despite his updated dialogue and liberal use of the "F" word.

Watching five women wearing the same dress bare their souls is not necessarily the most pleasant experience. But Cox and his cast of skilled actors manage to make Ball’s characters at times hilariously funny and at times intensely amiable.

In the second half of "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," Trip Davenport (the solid Chad Corbitt), a sincere and serious young man, comes into the bedroom looking for Trisha. It’s not quite evident why Ball chose to write a male character into his play. His five women do a fine job illustrating the ironies, the injustices and the pain of human existence.

One can only suppose that Ball felt it necessary to show that even when some women get what they want, they cannot be diverted from their path to self-destruction. While Trip may not hurt the play greatly and Corbitt’s acting is more than adequate, his entrance does seem to break the rhythm and mood and certainly doesn’t add much.

These women are fully aware of the foolishness that drives women to starve themselves so they will have figures pleasing to men, or let a man make love to them by a garbage dump. At times, they are stridently competitive; at other times, they are overwhelmingly supportive. Mostly they realize that they are all in the same boat, that they may be about to capsize, and that they only have each other.

"Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" provides a few lessons and more than a few laughs. Wear whatever you want, but don’t miss it.

"Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" continues on May 10, 11 and 12 at 8 pm at The Impact Theatre (190 Underhill Ave.). For reservations, call (718) 390-7163. Tickets are $15.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

robin cherney says:
i am learning the play five woman wearing the same dress and i am just learing the role as georgeanne and i have a learning promblem 1 day i can rember and the next i can not how do i go on learing this play and role thanks.
April 1, 2010, 10:45 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

This week’s featured advertisers