BWW Reviews: THE WEDDING DRESS at Spooky Action Theater Provides Wicked Fun
You've just woken up from a dream. The dream was so real, so interconnected with your own everyday life or history, that for a while, you are unable to tell the difference. For those who have ever had this experience, you know that eventually, the confusion is rectified, and life continues as normal.
But what if it isn't? What if, somehow, it becomes so fragmented in your subconscious that you can't escape it?
This central fear and introductory madness is the center theme of a delightfully wicked production of "The Wedding Dress", currently running at Spooky Action Theater. It is sexy, thoughtful, and a constant roller coaster through reality and descending dementia.
"The Wedding Dress", making its U.S. premiere at Spooky Action on its seventieth anniversary, is the brainchild of Brazilian playwright and journalist Nelson Rodrigues. His script is smart, letting the audience make as many mental connections as the characters do. While some lines feel slightly repetitive, ultimately, the audience member realizes that this is the only way memories can be reformulated, perhaps from his or her own personal experience.
The plot centers around Alaide (Mundy Spears), a beautiful young woman who has just been hit by a car in the middle of a square. As she lies unconscious in the hospital, her memories shatter, leaving her in a middle dimension, guided by Madame Clessi (Dane Figueroa Edidi), a famous courtesan viciously murdered at the turn of the century. The scenes switch in and out of reality, all revolving around Aladie's wedding day, a love triangle, and the ultimate fates of all characters involved.
Set designer Vicki Davis has done a brilliant job with the space. Upon first entering the theatre, all you see is a white cloth screen and some furniture. The screen is pulled back to reveal an intricate set decorated with criss-crossed metal rods, mannequins, and moveable tables which factor into the staging. It looks like a missing exhibit from the American Museum of Art's modern art gallery, but it is perfect for this show. Director Rebecca Holderness has also made the actors part of the set. No one is ever alone, and the action behind contributes to the progression. Transitions are flawless, and old movie reels flashed onto the walls from a vintage camera add another dimension of depth.
It is a wonderful thing indeed to see a collectively great ensemble cast, and for this show, it is greatly needed. Every actor holds his or her own, with most taking on multiple parts and accents interchangeably. Mundy Spears gives a multi-layered, deliciously sinister yet innocent Aladie whose unpredictability shines. Randolph Curtis Rand as Pedro, her conniving husband, has excellent timing, and elicited laughs even when the audience had no idea what was actually happening.
Dane Figueroa Edidi sparkles as Madame Clessi. She commands the stage, and takes successful chances with the dialogue in order to suit her performance. She is an apt combination of ridiculous and tragic, and a highlight of the show. Really, there is nothing negative to be said for all of the performances. This cast just gels and makes it look like fun.
Should you wish to escape into a wicked, sexy dystopia, make a beeline for Spooky Action Theater and "The Wedding Dress". You may have no idea what is going on at points, but you will be captivated all the same, and will not forget it anytime soon.
"The Wedding Dress" runs until March 9th at Spooky Action Theater. For more information, visit the production page. Photo credit: Franc Rosario.