Perhaps it’s because weddings are so grounded in decorum that playwrights and screenwriters and dinner-theater producers are compelled to hurl them into chaos. They take a day in which it’s critical that everything goes right and wring laughter from it by having everything go wrong. What a scream!
So we have British actor/playwright Robin Hawdon’s Perfect Wedding, on stage at the North Coast Rep. Matthew Wiener, who directed an uproarious Lend Me A Tenor at the Solana Beach theater two years ago, is at the helm again. But this full-volume farce is nowhere near as appealing. Perfect Wedding has the same scrambling about the stage from room to room, mistaken identities and frozen double takes as Tenor, and the pace is just as appropriately frantic, so why does it all become so exhausting?
The serpentine story line for a start. Groom-to-be Bill (Christopher M. Williams, Max in that 2011 Lend Me A Tenor) wakes up on the morning of his wedding day in bed with Judy (Brenda Dodge), whom he doesn’t remember falling into the sack with the night before. Best man Tom (Jason Maddy) arrives and is wheedled by a hyperventilating Bill into pretending, for the sake of about-to-arrive bride-to-be Rachel (Amanda Schaar), that the strange girl belongs to him. Only Tom mistakes the chambermaid (Kerry McCue) for the strange girl, not knowing that the real strange girl is his actual date for the wedding. In spite of all these hapless complications, it basically turns out to be a bug-eyed game of hide and seek: Hide the bad girl from the good girl. Or is it the good girl from the bad girl? Oh, to hell with it.
Kudos to the cast for its nonstop energy throughout. McCue, as the maid drawn into the mess armed only with a toilet brush, is the clear audience favorite, though her eye-rolling is overworked (but less so than Linda Van Zandt’s fingernails-on-chalkboard “Here Comes the Bride” refrain --one time would have been enough from the mom-of-the-bride character).
Perfect Wedding rises above its imperfections based on its sweetness and cuteness, and even with a rumpled bridal-suite bed on stage the whole time, the tale is never very risqué. It beats going to a real wedding, unless of course it’s your own.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat