Stage & Dance

Review: Studio Players makes the most from imperfect 'Wedding'

Things get tense between Judy (Stephanie Wyatt), left, and Julie (Natalie Marye) as Tom (Tanner Gray) referees. Studio Players has re-set Robin Hawdon's British farce in the American South.
Things get tense between Judy (Stephanie Wyatt), left, and Julie (Natalie Marye) as Tom (Tanner Gray) referees. Studio Players has re-set Robin Hawdon's British farce in the American South. Lexington Herald-Leader

Studio Players has long had a knack for successfully producing zany, lightweight comedies, typically including two or three of them each season: They are fun to perform, and audiences enjoy them. The troupe has brought its accustomed facility with this style to its latest offering, Robin Hawdon's Perfect Wedding. Unfortunately, the play itself is just not that funny.

Sure, there are laughs, but the characters are neither sympathetic nor smart, and the situations stretch the limits of credulity preposterously, even for a sex farce.

That being said, the production and performances are enjoyable in their own right.

As Bill, the groom who sleeps with his best man's girlfriend after his drunken bachelor party, Alex Maddox brings a perfect blend of befuddlement and consternation to the proceedings. He builds the energy of his performance steadily, and brings as much charm as possible to such a feckless, faithless, cowardly liar of a leading character.

Tanner Gray is winsome and daffy as best man Tom, the sweetest and stupidest character. Although the play's story arc takes him to the bizarre end of being a knife-wielding maniac, he too makes as much sense of the character as possible. Together, he and Maddox are convincing as best friends prone to hapless adventures. Their physical comedy is outstanding.

Stephanie Wyatt plays Judy, the girlfriend who finds true love in the arms of the drunken groom, with spunk and a madcap air that goes a long way toward explaining why the character would allow herself to get embroiled in the humiliating shenanigans she endures. During the second act, she has a lovely, serious monologue. It is the first time in the play that someone honestly speaks his or her feelings from a place of the superego rather than the id, and for a moment Wyatt elevates the play from its banality.

Britany Geoghegan and Jeani Lloyd portray the bride, Rachel, and her mother, Daphne, respectively. If "annoying" is a genetic trait, the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. Geoghegan plays Rachel as a dim-witted Bridezilla, appropriately making us root for Judy, although again, we are asked to believe that Rachel, too, is a ridiculously dense and gullible woman. Lloyd finds one over-the-top gear for Daphne and employs it from her first grand entrance through the final bows.

Natalie Marye as the hotel maid, Julie, rounds out the cast. She is also game for trying to make her role as a confused compatriot in the comedy of errors work, but her limited range of gestures and expressions stick out in the presence of more polished performances.

Hats off to director Gary McCormick for his excellent stagecraft. He utilizes Jim Daugherty's unit two-room set with impeccable pacing and blocking. The company is clearly very well-rehearsed, as the madcap proceedings carry on at a clip but without a hitch. His attention to stage detail makes the most out of this play. Ellen Hellard's costumes work effectively, too.

This is a classic example of a good theater company doing a first-rate job with a second-rate play. If you like frothy sitcom-level British comedy with its mind decidedly in the gutter, you might really enjoy this show. The production and performances are certainly worthy enough.