Bachelorette represents gluttony in a series of plays called Seven Deadly Plays by Leslye Headland. The scene is set in a luxurious New York City hotel room rented by a soon-to-be bride where three of her friends meet there the night before her wedding. There’s the coke-snorting Gena (Laura C. Harris), the quick-to-get-wasted Katie (Jessica Love), and the bitter Regan (Dylan Moore). All three are fashionable drug addicts in their late twenties, single, and incredibly jealous of Becky – the bride (Tracy Lynn Olivera). To make matters worse, the girls invite two guys who they just ‘picked up’ to join them: Jeff (Eric Bryant), a ladies’ man with a biting sense of humor, and Joe (JD Taylor), a pothead with a big heart. The Studio Theatre’s wild production is a bachelorette party gone crazy – spewing with toxic friendships!
When entering the theatre, Debra Booth’s set feels like a real-life living room. There is a couch in the center, a few chairs, a carpet outlining most of the stage; the walls are white and the exits to the backstage seem like doors that lead into different rooms of an apartment.
David Muse does a fantastic job directing the show and making sure, with the help of Sound Designer Neil McFadden, that we understand every word spoken on the stage. Bachelorette shines because of its cast and the writing. The fine group of actors play out the inner anxieties that plague so many of us, giving faces to our inner doubts and fears and, through in-your face scenes (like snorting cocaine off wedding gifts), they bring those fears to us in a very real way.
What makes this play and production so unique and crazy is that you can’t help but fall for these loud-mouthed, self-loathing and despicable losers. You actually see where they’re coming from and see why they do what they do. And you laugh at and with them.
The play examines, among other things, the societal and family pressures on women to get married in their twenties (or else they’ll be too old, their ovaries will shrivel up and they’ll be the family and community black sheep until they die, or they will move away to live as a hermit). It made me wonder: why the fear of independence? Why can’t a woman choose to live a life where she doesn’t rely on someone else? More still, why is a single man a bachelor and a single woman a spinster?
This self-loathing also ties in to their substance abuse. After snorting several lines of coke – Gina begins to shake and continues to do so throughout the entire performance, an impressive commitment by Harris to her character.
Like so many great plays, Bachelorette ends on a ‘now what?’ moment Nothing is exactly resolved, but the laundry has been aired, and everyone has been put through the wringer, including the audience. It’s not pretty, but The Studio Theatre’s stunning production is really funny, scary, biting, and ultimately very real. You won’t soon forget Bachelorette.
Running Time: 90 minutes, without an intermission.
Bachelorette plays through July 1, 2012, in The Mead Theatre at The Studio Theatre – 1501 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202) 332-3300, or order them online.