Chicago Theatre Review
“Bachelorette” – Sex, Drugs, and Comedy!
By Lazlo Collins
In the Profiles Theater newest offering, “Bachelorette”, the champagne flows, the shouting is often loud, and the relationships are complicated. It could be an episode of a “Housewives” reality show. But what sets this show apart from reality TV is that “Bachelorette” is people we actually know AND sometimes love.
The characters in this 90 minute hotel room romp by Leslye Headland are the girls and guys that we have all known in our lives. Everyone seems to be in some kind of pain and trying to make the pain go away with varying devices. There are reasons that after ten years’ time, people no longer stay friends, or even enemies. What happens when girlfriends of the past just show up? Well, with the right ingredients and the right setting you have “Bachelorette’! This play is second in a series by Ms. Headland themed around the seven deadly sins. “Bachelorette” is the gluttony play.
It is the eve of Becky’s (Rakisha Pollard) wedding, Gena (Amanda Powell) and Katie (Linda Augusta Orr) show up in a suite at the Peninsula Hotel in New York. (Kudos to set designer Scott Davis for making me feel fancy then claustrophobic as the play unfolded.) They are the uninvited. Unbeknownst to the bride-to-be, they are asked to come to the suite by the maid of honor, Regan. (Hillary Marren) They hate the bride for what she is and seemingly has, but are willing to overlook their feelings for a fun night out at the bride’s physical and emotional expense. But of course they shouldn’t even be there in the first place.
Gena and Katie waste no time; well, getting wasted. The girls make themselves right at home exploring their cozy situation and the rooms beyond. With the booze and cocaine in hasty consumption, the truths of these three woman’s relationships and heartaches boil to the service.
Ms. Powell as Gena is explosive as the bitter and coke fueled rebel. Always seeming to get the short stick, and yet she longs for control of her life. She was excellent in her portrayal as a woman all too happy to escape, but accepting responsibility of a life that she did not want. Ms. Powell’s transition from sober to somber to roaring tiger was well crafted.
Her BFF in crime, Katie, played by Ms. Powel, was also played sharp and with stinging reality. Moving from the screeching of “why me?” to passed out rag doll, Ms. Powell captures the sensitivity of someone who does not understand what happened and how they arrived where they are in life.
If we know anything about Regan from the start is that she is a troublemaker with a capital “T”. Ms. Marren plays the manipulative “good girl” with searing astonishment. Not until the end of the show do we understand why her staying in control is so important. Her portrayal of this complicated character is a winning one.
Of course adding to the emotional boil is the entry of the two men in the show. Regan’s invitation to the men is a dangerous calculation on her part, not thinking through what could possibly happen. Joe (Eric Burgher) and Jeff (Adam Soule) have only arrived for an adventure. Part curious passerby’s and part sexual predators; these gents won’t know what hit them after a night with the “Bachelorettes”.
Mr. Soule’s pursuit of Regan, the master invitee, was played deftly. His standing up to Regan and calling her out on her hijinks along with trying to woo her in the bedroom was great. With his true character revealed at the end, you somehow hoped he would be a decent guy.
In sharp contrast was Mr. Burgher’s character of Joe. It is clear his love of weed and following his friend Jeff is what may get him into many of the situations he does, including this one. He is a reluctant troubadour. His pathos for the girl that catches his eye clearly comes across to the audience, as well as his strange innocence. He is a follower on the surface, but in the end his valor wins out and reason takes the day.
As the night winds down (or up?), the arrival of the bride herself with cake in hand is moment the audience has dreaded from the start. She is sweet and overbearing, but quickly there are hints of her own struggles with the female guests that have come to celebrate in her suite. Ms. Pollard’s seemingly stately control is a breath of new hot air that makes the audience feel her pain and position well. Her discovery of the suite’s uninvited guests; as well as, physical condition of the room itself, lends for some uncomfortable moments for the audience.
Darrel Cox has done well to weave a layered, gilded web to trap all the characters in this pleasing ensemble piece. His actors are committed to the roles and never seem false or pretending. With the realistic dialogue, perhaps that is why I think all who see “Bachelorette” will be able to find themselves in at least one of the characters, or if you’re honest with yourself, maybe two.
“Bachelorette” continues through 11 March at Profiles Theatre at 4147 N Broadway in Chicago. For tickets call 773-549-1815 or profilesbachelorette.org