Does validation of a woman’s self-worth come with being independent or having a husband? In American University’s exceptional production of Leslye Holland’s Bachelorette, directed by Carl Menninger, this well-performed and directed play discusses all the above.
“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man, cuz’ I’m a woman, W-O-M-A-N!! I’ll say it again.” That was a catch phrase from a perfume commercial about thirty years ago. Translation: “I can go to work, contribute financially (to the household), and still make you feel like the man you are.” The phrase was empowering. Very modern. But does it speak to the longing to have someone, emotional security, happiness? Does validation of a woman’s self-worth come with being independent or having a husband?
Three girlfriends are set to have the time of their lives in a palatial hotel room on the eve of one their friends’ wedding. Katie, Gena and Regan, (superbly played by Kendra McNulty, Erica Pierce, and Alex Johnson, respectively), are ready to party “all night long.” For Katie and Gena, any occasion is welcoming for them to get their champagne drinking and coke snorting on. When Regan arrives some time later, the party is in full swing. Katie is a model-beauty girl, former high school prom queen, and neurotically morbid, “If I’m not married by thirty, I’m going to kill myself.” Gena is the loyal, tough, street-wise friend, you want on your side in any fight, but emotionally unable to trust anyone, especially men. She’s also the self-appointed expert on how to use the “penis” to get what you want.
When Regan tells the friends about her complicated relationship, Gena says to her, “Don’t start a blow job at ten. You have to start low, four to six, and work your way to a ten.” Regan, the very polished, educated,classically-dressed friend; that seem to appear the logical and more established friend, but is emotionally fragile, and not at all what she displays.
Through the champagne drinking and coke snorting, the friends talk about their friend Becky’s (Emily Krusche-Bruck), upcoming nuptials. They appear happy for her (she’s marrying a rich man), but definitely envious of her. They can’t understand how their “fat” friend who never dated to their knowledge, got a man. Katie even more envious, “How did that “fat” girl get a man?” After all, Katie was the prom queen. Retaliation ensues.
Katie and Regan encounter two men at the hotel, and bring them back to the suite – Jeff (Matt Winton), and Joe (Sam Ferguson). Jeff, is a strikingly handsome young man. Very educated and a narcissistic asshole. He’s attracted to Regan, and is very skilled in getting her to a confused vulnerable state. He is almost assured that he will “get laidtonight.” He definitely knew an emotionally fragile woman’s weak point. I loved his line to Regan, “I don’t give a woman a compliment for attention, I give compliments when I want to.”
Joe is the “sidekick friend.” He’s not overly handsome, or educated, but rather your “Average Joe.” But much like Gena, is loyal. He realizes he could never compete with Jeff, but he does have a quality Jeff doesn’t, a caring heart. As you can imagine, more plot twists abound, which I will not give away here.
All of the actors are phenomenal in this production, and they are beautifully directed by Carl Menninger. This play really drew me in. Kendra McNulty’s performance as Katie reminded me of self-absorbed girls I went to high school with. She was brilliant. She annoys you, yet you also feel sorry for her. Matt Winton’s portrayal of Jeff was great as well. All of us women have encountered at some point in our lives “an educated asshole.” It really hit home!
Congrats to the entire design team. Scenic Designer John Jeter deserves a special kudo for his amazing set. The white and silver color scheme was fabulous. Special recognition to Tyler D. Dubuc, Lighting Designer Andrew Stone, Costume Designer Bryce Sulecki, Master Carpenter Bonner Sale, Production Coordinator Kylene Page, Stage Manager Megan Robbins, Assistant Stage Manager Nia Calloway, Assistant Stage Manager Margot Cramer, Fight Director Robb Hunter, and Crew Member Hannah Ruth Welons for their fine work.
Don’t miss your chance to see these stars of the future – today at 2 PM or 8 PM – in Bachelorette.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Bachelorette ends its run today at 2 PM and 8 PM at American University’s College of Arts and Sciences performing at The Katzen Arts Center’s Studio Theatre – 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets,, call (202) 885-ARTS, or purchase them online.