‘Bachelorette’ at Dominion Stage

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It’s the night before Becky’s wedding and everything must be perfect. She has the perfect hotel room on the top floor of an NYC skyscraper, a bathtub full of champagne, and the perfect dress. Everything was going according to plan, until her jealous maid of honor Regan invites two tipsy friends up to the room while Becky is away. From then on, the night, and the hotel room, take a turn for the worst.

Claire O'Brien, Brianna Goode, and Maura Hogan. Photo by Matthew Randall.
Claire O’Brien, Brianna Goode, and Maura Hogan. Photo by Matthew Randall.

Leslye Headland’s play Bachelorette focuses on the truth behind jealously and how it motivates people to do crazy things. Dominion Stage was not shy about helping bring this topic into the light. With a very determined and energetic cast, and a very upscale set; Dominion Stage is the host to the Bachelorette party of the century.

Upon entering the blackbox theatre, I was greeted by a friendly gentleman in a suit and tie asking if I wanted a glass of “champagne.” After having poured me a glass he also made a point to mention the Cheese and Crackers on the table. The guests could go up onto the lovely set designed by David Moretti and eat cheese and crackers and have a glass of bubbly before the show started. It was a great way to ease into the show. The welcoming vibe that I received translated very well into the set, which looked as though it was plucked straight from NYC. With fancy chic furniture and lighting features the set fit the description of the time and place very well. Every object had a specific purpose for being onstage, it wasn’t just uselessly placed. The amount of detail that went into Mr. Moretti’s set helped aid in telling and progressing the story.

As the show starts, two stoned girls stumble onto the stage. They make quite an entrance as they fumble themselves through the hotel room. Gena, played by Claire O’Brien, is the first one onstage and immediately catches the attention of the audience. O’Brien’s strong character choices serve her well for the times that she is onstage. Both girls act as though they were born on the streets of NYC, with great NY accents to help create their characters. Gena is more or less the “authority” figure of the group, trying to make sure that nothing is damaged in the hotel room and that tracks are covered. She tries very hard to keep order and also continue to have a fun night. O’Brien plays Gena very strongly and is always on her game, especially when onstage with Katie, played by Maura Hogan. The two have a marvelous stage chemistry that propels their scenes forward and never allows for a dull moment. The two also have impeccable comedic timing with each other and are able to keep a straight face even when the audience is laughing.

Maura Hogan plays Katie with such commitment, you’d almost swear she was actually tipsy. Playing the part of the girl that just wants to belong and fit in. Hogan pulls out all the stops and goes crazy leading the viewer to believe that she’s just extra drunk; but, as the night progresses she reveals some of her thoughts and desires, some of them not so glamorous. Hogan really shows off her acting abilities when she talks about her depression and mental disorder, making the audience want to run up and hug her as she falls to the floor in tears. You could really tell that Hogan dug deep into her character development to create a truly dynamic character.

Mike Rudden, Maura Hogan, Claire O'Brien, Lynley Peoples,  Brianna Goode, and Andy De. Photo by Matthew Randall.
Mike Rudden, Maura Hogan, Claire O’Brien, Lynley Peoples, Brianna Goode, and Andy De. Photo by Matthew Randall.

Brianna Goode, playing the role of Regan, was also not short on character development. Commanding the stage from her first entrance to her last bow, Goode was very believable in the role. Reagan is the troublemaker of the show. She was the one who called Katie and Gena to come to the fancy hotel. Because she is not in a good place in her relationship, Regan becomes jealous of Becky and looks for any way to ruin the wedding. Goode does a wonderful job of hiding her true intentions until they need to be exposed. Her fierce and fiery energy is what is needed for a character like Regan. Towards the end of the show, Regan finds herself in a predicament with Becky, played by Lynley Peoples. I found myself feeling sorrier for Regan than I did for Becky.

What would a Bachelorette party be without some guys? Jeff (Andy De) and Joe (Mike Rudden) are two guys that help the girls deal with the drunkenness of the night. After helping passed out Katie get upstairs the guys find themselves in the girl’s hotel room. Jeff, an extremely self-centered businessman, wants nothing more than a one night stand with one of the girls in the hotel. Andy De does a great job of continually being self-absorbed with his cell phone while still trying to impress Regan. Joe, however, is a different person. Mike Rudden paints a clear picture of a that got mixed up in the wrong crowd. At one point delivering a monologue about his friend Ethan who had passed away, Mike acts the part with such raw emotions. The story is made even more real with the frequent pauses in which Mike did a nice job of holding my attention. Overall, Rudden and Hogan had great acting chemistry together which made their scenes even more powerful.

I am very impressed with how far the actors went to tell this story. Everyone in the cast was fully committed to their roles and scenes. The seamless stage directions by Director Rob Batarla were always interesting and creative. Batarla’s directing also allowed for very dramatic and moving scenes. The characters did a very nice job of always staying active onstage, even when the focus wasn’t on them.

Dominion Stage did a great job of tackling Bachelorette and finding all of the small character details. Every character was strongly performed and clearly portrayed by every actor. The intimate blackbox space helped to create the environment needed for this backstabbing comedic drama. Don’t miss it!

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Bachelorette plays through May 16, 2015 at Dominion Stage performing at Theatre On the Run – 3700 South Four Mile Run Drive, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the door or online.

RATING: FOUR-AND-A-HALF-STARS10.gif