Westport Country Playhouse, Westport
Sometimes good intentions just are not enough. “Mary’s Wedding,” now at the Westport Playhouse, is the story of one woman’s recommitment to life after tragedy strikes. But how Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte handles that theme is deeply disappointing.
The tale is set in Canada before, during, and after World War I. A boy and girl meet, fall in love, and are separated by war--and, ultimately, death. For starters, this is an all-too-familiar theme. But, then, so was “Romeo and Juliet.” An overworked theme can certainly be rescued by strong characterizations, brilliant dialogue. “Mary’s Wedding,” alas, fails on both accounts. The story unfolds through a series of pedestrian exchanges between two ordinary people. It is, in fact, one long yawn.
Moreover, the entire format is confusing. It takes time to realize the play is meant to be a dream, replete with flashbacks. It is the night preceding Mary’s wedding, as she recalls her earlier love—both their first encounters and his subsequent wartime ordeal. Fortunately for the evening, the play ends on a strong note, when Mary comes to terms with the past and prepares for the future with a new love. (At our performance, the audience responded warmly to the final bows, apparently feeling they had had a good experience after all.)
The two young actors—Lee Aaron Rosen as the boy Charlie and Hannah Cabell as Mary—are appealing, interacting well with each other. (Cabell’s performance falters only when she is called upon to turn herself into Charlie’s gruff sergeant.) And Tazewell Thompson (Artistic Director of the Playhouse) directs with a sure hand. Whatever the failings of the script, Tazewell manages to give drama to the production. Moreover, applause goes to the competent design team (set designer Donald Eastman for his haunting barn, Linda Cho for period costumes, Robert W. Henderson, Jr. for dramatic lighting, Fabian Obispo for appropriate sound design and composition)
Would that all these worthy production efforts had served a better cause!
-- Irene Backalenick
June 25, 2007