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University Theatre’s “There Goes the Bride” Falls Flat

The cast for "There Goes the Bride," a British sex comedy by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, includes (from left) Mark Filiaci, Sarah Winter, Danny Norris, Michael Brocki, and Allison McAlister (photo by Ron Foreman)

The cast for “There Goes the Bride,” a British sex comedy by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, includes (from left) Mark Filiaci, Sarah Winter, Danny Norris, Michael Brocki, and Allison McAlister (photo by Ron Foreman)

Everyone goes a little crazy before a wedding, but perhaps none more so than Timothy Westerby (Mark Filiaci). On the day of his daughter’s wedding, the central character of Ray Cooney and John Chapman’s There Goes the Bride takes a knock to the head. Suddenly, he’s seeing, hearing, and even dancing with the 1920s flapper he dreamed up for an advertising campaign. The flapper, visible only to him, answers to the name of Polly Perkins (Sarah Winter), and Timothy comes to view her as the very antithesis of all he finds wrong with modern society. In fact, by the time he’s taken a second knock to the head and caused a lot of confusion all around, he actually comes to believe he’s living in his idolized 1920s and that he’s engaged to Polly.

While the premise of this story makes it sound almost ridiculous enough to work, the 1975 comedy is, unfortunately, showing its age. The play feels harried and old-fashioned in an unbecoming kind of way, and while it does feature some funny moments and a little clever wording here and there, many of the jokes fall flat.

In spite of the convoluted script, a mostly-talented cast manages to trek onward, finding funny moments where it can and milking them for all they’re worth. If one thing can be said for Cooney and Chapman, they have created some lively characters, each of which bursts onto the stage in a bigger-than-life way.

Danny Norris is perfect as the oft-confused Dr. Gerald Drimmond, the bride-to-be’s grandfather, and Kathy Norris is all spunk as his wife, Daphne, a character unafraid to speak her mind and showcase her big personality. Sarah Winter is, at first, charming as the lively flapper, but the character’s unfailing enthusiasm and Winter’s over-the-top portrayal are wearisome as the script drags on- and drag it does. The first act feels impossibly long.

One of the play’s saving graces, however, is Michael Brocki’s portrayal of Bill Shorter, the slightly lecherous family friend. While everyone else is busy playing their roles as larger-than-life, Brocki’s understated delivery and exasperated faces bring a calmness to the show that it desperately needs. Alas, his stage time is all-too-minimal, and the unbalanced play veers wildly from one extreme to the next. At least the entire thing plays out on a gorgeously designed, highly functional home set, complete with a realistic balcony.

The bottom line is that though Bride has its moments, its not likely to be the biggest hit of this year’s TheatreFest.

University Theatre at N.C. State presents THERE GOES THE BRIDE, as part of TheatreFest 2014, at 7:30 p.m. June 11 and 13 in the Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall, 2241 E. Dunn Ave., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $17 ($15 students and seniors and $4.68 NCSU students).

BOX OFFICE: 919-515-1100 or http://www.ncsu.edu/ticketcentral/index.html.

SHOW: http://www.ncsu.edu/theatre/theatrefest/.

THEATREFEST 2014: http://www.ncsu.edu/theatre/theatrefest/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/237057219823794/.

PRESENTER: http://www.ncsu.edu/theatre/ and https://www.facebook.com/ncstateuniversitytheatre.

VENUE: http://www.ncsu.edu/arts/thompson/index.html.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.ncsu.edu/arts/mapsanddirections.html.

OTHER LINKS:

There Goes the Bride (1975 play): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/2454/there-goes-the-bride (Samuel French, Inc.).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

Ray Cooney (British playwright): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Cooney (Wikipedia).

John Chapman (British playwright): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chapman_%28English_writer%29 (Wikipedia).

Allison Bergman (NCSU assistant director): http://allisonbergman.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/stagedoc (Facebook page).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews