Story: Ten years after graduating from high school, a group of women gather in a hotel bridal luxury suite on the night before the wedding of one of their former classmates.
Just one of the three, Regan, has been invited to the ceremony, as the maid of honor. Regan calls up Gena and Katie to join her in a night of binge drinking, drugs and debauchery in bride-to-be Becky’s room, unbeknownst to her. The latter two bring along Jeff and Joe, a pair of guys they just met, to join the party.
While they appear to be doing fine, in reality Regan, Katie and Gena allow their jealousy of Becky’s upcoming marriage to corrode any conviviality. As the night progresses, the level of backbiting, sniping and nastiness intensifies, sending the psychologically fragile Katie over the edge. Becky’s late arrival only exacerbates the tension and bitterness.
Highlights: Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble gave its 2013-14 productions the umbrella title of “Season of the Monster.” While its previous offering, The Woman in Black, was a good, old-fashioned ghost story and its next presentation will be a world premiere called Mary Shelley Monster Show, this current St. Louis premiere of Bachelorette delves more into the monstrous behavior of everyday people.
Leslye Headland’s intense and provocative, one-act drama, which opened on Broadway in 2010, is raw, profane and prolific in its delineation of unflattering characters, spoiled yuppies feasting on hedonism in Manhattan. SATE’s production, directed in searing, sobering style by Rachel Tibbetts, fits effectively into its season’s over-arching theme.
Other Info: Watching Headland’s shallow, self-centered characters wallow through 90 minutes of vitriol and faux friendship is an intense experience. It’s well worth your time, however, to observe this modern-day cautionary tale of betrayal and bitterness run amok in SATE’s first-rate rendition.
Tibbetts elicits finely etched portrayals by her performers. Cara Barresi imbues Gena with slick savagery, saltily describing her serial adventures with men before she surprisingly references her regret over a lost love. As Katie, Wendy Renee Greenwood smartly conveys a party-time girl who’s spent the decade since high school kicking from job to job, still living at home and prone to self-destruction.
Ellie Schwetye’s Regan wavers between the slightest loyalty to her bride-to-be friend Becky and her own need to rely on pills, booze and sex to get her through the night, which includes a carping phone conversation with her own steady beau, a less than idyllic relationship. Jamie Fritz completes the gal quartet as Becky, whose overweight physique is the subject of ridicule and cruel humor by her vitriolic pals. Her arrival at the suite ratchets up an already high intensity quotient.
Jared Sanz-Agero and Carl Overly Jr. are the two guys picked up at the bar. Sanz-Agero’s Jeff is decent enough to engage Regan in adult conversation at least part of the time, while Overly’s Joe shows some surprising care and concern for Katie’s complex moodiness and brooding behavior.
A major problem with SATE’s production is how the players’ voices sometimes are difficult to discern clearly in the harsh acoustics of The Chapel’s main floor, where the show is staged.
The scenic design by Schwetye and Tibbetts features a nifty background, criss-cross panel ala the old Thriller TV series and some upscale furniture for the swanky suite. Bess Moynihan contributes lighting design, Tibbetts provides sound design and Tracey Newcomb-Margrave is credited with ‘wedding dress construction.’
At one point, Joe remarks that his best friend from grade school, who died unexpectedly, “never had to grow up. He lucked out.” The young adults in Bachelorette aimlessly cling to a shallow youth of excess that nonetheless leaves them unsatisfied. So it is with many monsters.
Company: Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Venue: The Chapel, 6238 Alexander Drive
Dates: May 14, 15, 16, 17
Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.
Photos courtesy of Joey Rumpell, RumZoo Photography