What fluff does Hollywood stick into the other 30 to 60 minutes of its big screen rom-coms? The Wedding Party, a new play by writing team Megan Dominy and Mimsi Janis, proves that a complete comedic romp with twists, heartfelt moments, and jokes a-plenty, can be fit into less than an hour while still feeling like a full journey. Step up your game, Hollywood – your Apatow-style comedies are so overlong.
Dominy and Janis step into two of the five roles in their script, and it’s tempting to think that their characters (Caitlin and Elana, respectively) are informed by a real-life friendship between the two. They bicker, snipe, and ultimately support each other with recognizable rapport; Elana alternately teases and worries over how much Caitlin obsesses over her dogs, and Caitlin does her best to boost Elana’s self-esteem when it comes to Elana’s size without turning into the skinny-friend-who-doesn’t-get-it.
While their interactions are the highlights of the show, the other three characters and their interrelationships are just as rich. The story follows Caitlin, Elana, and their ditzy new-age pal Chloe (Kristen Garaffo, finding depth without contradicting that ditzy surface) as they prepare for the wedding day of their beloved yet intimidating friend Trisha (Madeline Burrows). Another member of the wedding party, Justin (Jonathan Lee Taylor), gets involved later.
The Wedding Party
by Megan Dominy and Mimsi Janis
Directed by Abigila Isaac Fine
Details and tickets
The trouble begins when Elana refuses to wear the spandex pants Trisha has decreed for her bridesmaids (marked with “Bride’s Bitch” across the ass) but to reveal where the twists progress from there would be to spoil a great deal of fun. Suffice to say that, however many of these types of comedies you’ve seen, the twists Dominy and Janis have in store are fresh. Best of all, these twists don’t require the characters to act stupid (as is the case in so many movies and sitcoms). Everyone’s decisions are believable throughout, and it helps that the writers have a firm grasp of both DC geography and how modern social media operate.
Director Abigail Isaac Fine ably moves the actors about the tiny stage in the back of W.S. Jenks’ hardware store, and keeps the antics grounded in those longstanding friendships between the characters. She and the cast find some honest pain in, for example, Elana’s struggles with cultural attitudes about a woman’s appearance, without weighing down the flurry of jokes and witty remarks.
There’s some small nitpicks to hold against the show, particularly in comparison with Hollywood products (a comparison the play invites by explicitly referencing Sex and the City at one point). There’s no real laugh-riot setpiece as we might expect, although the show is consistently generous with the chuckles. As well, the show’s conclusion is a little too pat, largely ignoring the probable emotional fallout of the climactic decision in favor of a happy ending with everyone a little better off than they were at the start. Other than those minor issues, while it may not be the kind of genre-busting show that absolutely anyone could see and love, The Wedding Party will certainly be a pleasure for anyone with a yen for emotionally-grounded, clever contemporary comedy.