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BWW Review: THE LATE WEDDING at Pell Chaffe Performing Arts Center


Running through November 21st

BWW Review: THE LATE WEDDING at Pell Chaffe Performing Arts Center

THE LATE WEDDING-an abstract look at relationships that will keep you questioning long after.

To be honest, going into this production of Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program's THE LATE WEDDING, Christopher Chen's cutting-edge 2017 play based on writer Italo Calvino's musings about love, intimacy and trust in romantic relationships, I feared it would leave me or my wife or both looking at our own relationship and shortcomings.

Luckily, whew, I was so wrong.

While the play does dig into relationships throughout the nearly dozen skits, it does not take itself too seriously. Some of the skits do ponder marriage woes like one on the examination of marriage cultures throughout several foreign tribes, some that held honeymoons where the recently-married vacationed apart from each other-huh?-to others having a second family, with kids to boot-while still longing but yet not seeing their first husband or wife. Others skits saw a tribe that believed themselves to be dead but only to allow themselves to have other lovers under that guise. While starting out with a serious tone the play doesn't stay that way for long as narrators often talk straight to the audience, answering questions we had on our minds or intersperse vignettes of wit as the play went along. In one scene, the audience is actually re-located to another part of the stage, something my wife and I, after hundreds of plays, had never seen before. And that's what I think you have here with THE LATE WEDDING, something so creative yet abstract that you try hard to compare it to anything else you have ever seen but can't, not by a long shot.

The lack of THE LATE WEDDING turning into an intense, introspective drama was a huge sigh of relief for both of us. While it manages to touch on marriage and relationships quite a bit it also has its fair share of humor, with one scene taking place in a spaceship while the entire cast sung "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in space slow motion. Another focused on a revolution and the search for someone-think hide and seek-while others sat back, playing music-even an accordion-going about their own lives oblivious. The play makes people wonder if the playwright Chen took the original writings from Calvino, likely while in a drug-induced haze, and decided to make it into a play. This play's theme stumped my wife, who is usually a great judge of a play's central meaning. The only word she found to describe it was "dreams" and how abstract they can be, understanding some parts yet not others. I think for me, everything we saw in the play was based on love and relationships of one kind or the other. Relationships can be, at times, like a "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Being married can be like being on a spaceship, going to foreign places or even like a revolution. Yikes but it is so true.

In the end, everyone will leave this play with a different interpretation and perhaps more than one. You will certainly leave with more questions than answers but the play will have succeeded in getting you and keeping you thinking. My wife and I talked for hours afterward trying to pick themes out of each scene and not always succeeding. The entertainment value for THE LATE WEDDING is certainly there but the plot is not wrapped up in a bow, as others would be. You have to work at it and ponder it long afterward. And I liked that. A lot.

The cast includes five final year Brown/Trinity Rep MFA students as well as a local actor, six very talented actors who, through this play, can cover any emotion thrown at them from sadness and humility to jealousy and abandonment to just outright humor. Alfredo Antillon, Andrew Gombas, Jihan Haddad, Gunnar Manchester and Han Van Sciver round out the MFA cast with Catia providing narration as well as a number of roles throughout the play. There are some great futures ahead for all of them.

THE LATE WEDDING runs through November 21st. For tickets go to

Patrons must show proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test and masks must be worn in the theatre at all times, despite your vaccination status.

PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Antillon, Han Van Sciver, Catia, and Gunnar Manchester in "The Late Wedding" by Christopher Chen; directed by Aileen Wen McGroddy; set design by Tatiana Kahvegian; costume design by Camilla Dely; lighting design by Jennifer Fok; sound design by Caroline Eng. Photo by Mark Turek.

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