PlayMakers Repertory Company’s PRC 2 production of Mary’s Wedding, directed by Cody Nickell, is a dream play told from the mind’s eye of memory. It takes place on the eve of Mary’s wedding, with Mary (played by Carey Cox) telling the audience about a recurring dream that she has about Charlie (played by Myles Bullock), the boy that she loves. Through this dream, we learn how they met, how they fell in love, and then how Charlie decided to join up with the Canadian horse brigade on the eve of World War I.
Scenic designer Daniel Conway does a brilliant job setting the stage. The simple design is comprised of a garden gate, some long grasses, sandbags, and a small platform framed by a large wooden circle.
The circle could be a sunset, a sunrise, or the focal point of a lens into Mary’s mind. It makes the play look like a series of vignettes or shadow-boxes. Through dynamic lighting by Jeff Adelberg, we are transported to an old barn, the streets of a small town, a stormy field, and the trenches of war. Through innuendo, even the swinging gate transforms into a horse, a wall, a boat. It’s a remarkable set design.
And as we are watching Mary’s dream, time ebbs and flows. We slip easily from a scene with Charlie meeting Mary on the farm in a rainstorm to a scene with Charlie at war, with bombs falling around him and machine guns rat-a-tatting in the distance. This device lets Mary and Charlie speak with one another about things that will happen in the future. For instance, when Mary and Charlie are courting, Mary shows him letters that he has written to her after he has gone off to war. As bizarre as that sounds, it’s magical.
Kudos also must go to Jade Bettin, the costume designer. She puts Mary in a gauzy white dress throughout the play. Is it her wedding dress? Her nightgown? It could be either.
And Charlie’s field boots easily handle the double-duty of farmer’s gear and a soldier’s boots on the fields of war. These outfits seamlessly jump from the past to the present, and back again.
Although the story is set in wartime, it is also set in a simpler and gentler time before the war. Charlie and Mary’s bashfulness and good manners are endearing, and they both speak earnestly to each other and to the audience. It makes their love feel quite tender. Yet their love builds steadily throughout the telling of their story and sustains them both during the war.
Mary’s Wedding is wistful story, beautifully told, about love, war, regret, and the deep love that can sustain us while life is raging all around us. Who amongst us can’t relate to that? And who wouldn’t love to have the gift of hindsight and the ability to see the future while in the present? It’s all possible in this play! Don’t miss it.
SECOND OPINION: May 1st Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/05/marys-wedding-is-hauntingly-beautiful/; April 30th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Jeffrey Rossman: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=7414; April 29th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/playmakers-marys-wedding/Event?oid=4343663; and April 28th Chapel Hill, NC WCHL/Chapelboro preview by by D.G. Martin: http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/playmakers-deep-dish-wrap-up-chapel-hill-theater-season/ and April 25th interview with director Cody Nickell, conducted by D.G. Martin for “Who’s Talking”: http://audio.chapelboro.com.s3.amazonaws.com/2015/04/24/WEEKEND/WHOS%20TALKING%20WITH%20DG%20MARTIN_NICKEL_WEB.mp3. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the April 28th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/04/wwi-separates-lovers-in-stephen-massicottes-haunting-2002-dream-play-marys-wedding/.)
PlayMakers Repertory Company presents MARY’S WEDDING at 7:30 p.m. May 1 and 2 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 3 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
TICKETS: $15 and up ($10 UNC students and $12 other college students), with discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel.
BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY, email@example.com, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/single.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/groupsales.
UNC NEWS RELEASE: http://uncnews.unc.edu/2015/04/06/playmakers-presents-regional-premiere-of-marys-wedding/.
PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.
PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.
NOTE: After each performance, there will be a post-show discussion with members of the cast and creative team and subject-matter experts.
Mary’s Wedding (2002 dream play): http://www.canadiantheatre.com/dict.pl?term=Mary%27s%20Wedding (Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia) and http://www.playwrightscanada.com/index.php/marys-wedding.html (Playwrights Canada Press Ltd.).
Stephen Massicotte (Canadian playwright and screenwriter): http://www.canadiantheatre.com/dict.pl?term=Massicotte,%20Stephen (Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia), http://www.playwrightscanada.com/index.php/stephen-massicotte.html (Playwrights Canada Press Ltd. bio), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1351157/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Massicotte (Wikipedia).
Cody Nickell (director): http://www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org/about/CodyNickell.asp (Gulfshore Playhouse bio), http://www.playmakersrep.org/aboutus/artist.aspx?id=e1fe0f8e-fdcd-48eb-89ba-080dd30aaea4 (PlayMakers Repertory Company bio), and https://www.facebook.com/cody.nickell.12 (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.