Last week’s Perfect Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was the expected model for British royalty, but with a strong American influence. It was deliberately conservative, and it ran like clockwork. Perfect Wedding at the Pittsburgh CLO’s Cabaret Theatre was totally opposite. It is a hilarious and raucous romp as the wedding train derails completely.
Director Michael Barakiva has slightly “Americanized” British playwright Robin Hawdon’s comedic farce (that’s French for slamming doors and misplaced identities) to bring it closer to the American model of a wedding. (Let us hope every Yank’s marriage doesn’t come off like this one!)
Imagine on the day of the wedding the bridegroom wakes in his own bridal suite and finds a strange girl in bed beside him in a compromised state. She is somewhat familiar, yet he can’t remember who she is, how she got there and what transpired under the sheets. As he panics to get the stranger dressed and out of the way, Bill begs his Best Man to pretend he knows the girl. When the bride arrives to prepare for her big day, the girl is trapped in the bathroom, add the maid, an overbearing mother of the bride, an out of control never seen Dad and the plot twists and turns as fast as the slamming of the doors.
CLO veteran Michael Greer (Up and Away, and twenty-five other CLO shows) plays Bill, the very hungover and confused amnesiac groom. Greer’s Bill is a likable, handsome guy who skipped the logic portion of life skills in favor of a couple of doses of a great smile and charming grin. If there is an opposite to “Control Freak” that’s Bill, he doesn’t seem to be able to control anything. There is always a danger in type casting an actor, but Greer is a master of playing the loveable, handsome doofus.
Second to come out from under the sheets is the statuesque Julia Geisler as Judy. As you would expect Judy is very put off by Bill’s severe cased of liquor-induced amnesia regarding their night together. At first, Greer and Geisler’s banter seemed a little stilted but her performance begins to shine as the play progresses and her character’s real feelings emerge. From both a style and acting perspective she keeps the show from entirely running amok. These things need at least one sane person to hold it together.
Tim McGeever’s Tom is the loyal all around good guy Best Man who would do just about anything for his buddy. McGeever is one of those actors who always seems to conjure a little bit of business, stance or gaze that draws the audience’s focus. He has some brilliantly played and hilariously funny scenes and rants as he wields a carving knife.
It would be easy to lose track of the excellent performances with all the shtick and commotion going on, but this farce is well cast. Julianne Avolio is Julie the good-natured and kooky chambermaid who gets “drafted” to be Tom’s girlfriend by Bill. Avolio starts her character out as a very helpful but inquisitive accomplice for the boys and morphs into a raging maniac as she becomes the hotel’s last employee left who hasn’t quit, trying to reign in the insanity.
Hope Anthony as Rachel, who clearly, but doesn’t necessarily want to, wears the pants in the relationship with Bill. Last but not least, Christina Laitta is Daphne, Rachel’s over-bearing Mom who is focused on the dress and more importantly getting Rachel married today.
Slapstick farce is harder to pull off than it seems. Director Michael Barakiva keeps the comedic timing and pacing flowing smoothly while all the while letting his actors show off their skills. He holds the throttle tight to keep it from going totally over the top, but it can border on shrillness at times. Between the witty dialogue, the repartee between the characters, and other funny bits the audience for Perfect Wedding laughed the night away. Perfect Wedding at the CLO Cabaret has all the ingredients for a royal good time!
Perfect Wedding at the CLO Cabaret in the Cultural District runs now through August 12th, 2018. For tickets click here.
Thanks to the CLO for the complimentary tickets.
Photos by Matt Polk
Categories: Archived Reviews