The curtains open on a disheveled bridal suite in the “only decent hotel within miles.” A head emerges from under the covers (at the foot of the bed). The first line: “Oh. My. God!” Wait! Did somebody say the words “perfect wedding?” The plot thickens when we discover that this is the morning of the wedding — in two short hours, Bill will be marrying Rachel. The problem is, the girl in the bed is not Rachel!
Peak Ensemble Players has done it again at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex, NC, a.k.a. “The Peak of Good Living” (get it?)! Under Kathleen Rudolph’s direction, this comedy, Robin Hawdon’s Perfect Wedding rocks. It’s a “bedroom farce.” Doors open and shut. Characters come and go at precisely the wrong moment. They make inaccurate assumptions.
As new information comes to light, they devise hasty cover-ups that just plain do not work. Mistaken identity abounds, and the audience always knows just a little bit more than any of the characters. This type of comedy depends on a lightning-fast pace, with split-second timing, and Rudolph’s cast has risen to the occasion — in spades!
As Bill, Larry Evans manages to show a man who always has a “Plan B” — never mind that it never quite works. (His mannerisms reminded us of some of Tim Conway’s characters on The Carol Burnett Show.)
Rebecca Leonard, as “Girl,” exudes an earnest innocence, along with her feelings of both guilt and resignation. Christopher Brown, the master of dead-pan, is a hoot as Tom; and Kirsten Ehlert has no problem convincing us that her Rachel remains in-the-dark until the very end.
As Julie (or is it Judy?), Jennifer Dalgetty Anglum easily shifts from confused to complicit to indignant and back again; and Dee Penven-Crew’s Daphne easily establishes the take-charge, dominance-of-the-scene traits that are expected from the mother-of-the-bride, as the clock winds down to time for the ceremony. A nice touch is her subdued humming and singing at just the right moments (see item 1 below).
Notable strengths of this production include:
- The set is divided into the two adjoining rooms of the bridal suite (which are separated a lockable door). Lights cross-fade as the play’s focus shifts between the two rooms. That is normal. What is extraordinary is that the second room, the one that is not the focal point at the moment, is never static — there is always just enough activity in the second room to keep it interesting but never so much as to steal focus. That adds to the texture of the show, and the company deserves kudos.
- Even before the curtain opens, hints litter the front of the stage — be sure to take note.
Cute bits include:
There is an ever-present (sometimes projectile) toilet brush.
Jameson’s® Irish Whiskey is almost an additional character.
Lines such as “having corn flakes” and “well you may ask” elicit laughter.
There is a three-telephone gag that works nicely.
On a few occasions, a scene is blocked so that two characters talk back-and-forth while a third comically behaves as though she is watching a ping-pong match.
Production values are flawless, thanks to costume designer Jeremy Clos, scenic designer Thomas Mauney, lighting designer Tommy Tallis, and sound designer Larry Evans. They are all on-point.
If you are looking for fast-paced, well-timed fun (with a dose of the warm-fuzzies thrown in), Perfect Wedding at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in downtown Apex this weekend and next should fit the bill.
The Peak Ensemble Players present PERFECT WEDDING at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and 29, 3 p.m. Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 and 6, and 3 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex, North Carolina 27502.
TICKETS: $15 ($10 seniors).
BOX OFFICE: 919-249-1120 or http://www.etix.com/.
VENUE: http://thehalle.org/, https://www.apexnc.org/454/Halle-Cultural-Arts-Center, https://www.facebook.com/thehalleofApex, and https://twitter.com/thehalle.
Perfect Wedding (1997 Peninsula Players of Fish Creek, WI comedy): https://robinhawdon.com/robin-hawdon-plays/perfect-wedding/ (official web page) and https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/2449/perfect-wedding (Samuel French Inc.).
Robin Hawdon (playwright and screenwriter): https://robinhawdon.com/ (official website) and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0369937/ (Internet Movie Database).
Kathleen Rudolph (director and Raleigh Little Theatre‘s associate education director): https://raleighlittletheatre.org/people/kathleen-rudolph/ (RLT bio).
A native of North Carolina, Yvette L. Holder has studied theater at three institutions: the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute (New York), and N.C. Central University, where she received a BA in Dramatic Arts. Yvette also promotes and produces comedy theater, as well as working with playwrights around the country during the development stage of their work. She hosts a monthly play reading session: “Sips and Scripts” at Imurj in downtown Raleigh. 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 Yvette and Kurt’s reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.