As the final selection for Pinch ‘N’ Ouch Theatre’s second season, Bachelorette by Leslye Headland opens with Gena (Ann Marie Gideon) and Katie (Elizabeth Lanier) entering the hotel suite of their friend Becky (Jessica De Maria) on the eve of her wedding. Originally uninvited due to their party-girl histories, Gena and Katie are called by Becky’s maid of honor Regan (Sarah Blackman). The three soon begin discussing Becky’s upcoming wedding and how unfair it is that Becky, who they perceive as the least attractive and heaviest of the group, is getting married before any of them.
It takes the three ladies five or so minutes to hit their full stride, but when they do – wow; the first half of act one is utterly captivating and full of laugh-out-loud moments. At first thought some of the exchanges may seem absurd, but soon it sinks in that this is as real as it gets in theater. Headland’s dialogue is capably delivered by Blackman, Gideon and Lanier. Under the perceptive direction of Grant McGowen, Artistic Director of Pinch ‘N’ Ouch Theatre, they quickly earn their hardcore party-girl status by guzzling bottle after bottle of champagne in between smoking, snorting and delivering vicious quips about their plus-size friend Becky.
Although there are a few slight slips from her Brooklyn accent, Gideon delivers the strongest performance of the all-around solid cast. Despite less stage time than Blackman and Lanier, she draws the audience’s attention when she is present. Her juicy and often filthy lines are delivered flawlessly, but she wins the audience over with the heart-felt care and concern that her character has for Katie who is prone to out-of-control alcohol binges.
In addition to Gena and Katie, Regan invites two random guys looking for a good time back to the hotel. Bryan Brendle as Jeff and Barrett Doyle as Joe are fine in their roles and they have excellent chemistry with Blackman and Lanier respectively, but as the title suggests, this is a female-driven play.
One of Bachelorette’s most exciting moments is when the audience members at last meet the bride that they only know from her friends’ glib descriptions. Beautifully dressed by Lanier, who also serves as the production’s Costume Designer, Becky enters and soon discovers the mayhem that her friends have caused in the hotel suite. Soon, Becky and Regan are left alone where De Maria and Blackman deliver fierce performances as they discuss the evening’s events and their past.
Overall, Headland’s message will be most meaningful to those in their twenties and thirties. While the play cautions against multiple levels of gluttony, it also challenges the fundamentals of true friendship. By presenting Bachelorette, Pinch ‘N’ Ouch Theatre continues to succeed in its goal to bring fresh and exciting new works to Atlanta. Shockingly honest and courageously acted by its cast, Bachelorette is a no-holds-barred ride that exhilarates from start to finish.
Bachelorette plays through September 18 at 7 Stages Backstage. For tickets and more information please visit www.pnotheatre.org.
– A. Wesley