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W.S. Jenks & Son

Remaining Performances (tickets available here):

Thursday, July 16 at 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 19 at 2:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 23 at 7:35 p.m.
Saturday, July 25 at 8:20 p.m.

They say: Trisha’s getting married! The dress is divine, the catering is farm-to-table, mason jars are aglow — it’s a Pinterest-addict’s wet dream. But when the bridal party receives a surprise message from the groom, there may not be a wedding after all.

John’s take: The Wedding Party proceeds from a familiar premise, and director Abigail Isaac Fine and playwrights Megan Dominy and Mimsi Janis don’t seem to have much interest in reinventing the wheel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course: although it’s been done over and over again, the wedding comedy genre has nearly limitless potential to entertain. (I’m partial to Father of the Bride, myself.) Unfortunately, despite a game cast, the uneven nature of its script ultimately makes The Wedding Party a somewhat disappointing addition to the club.

The play does its best to live up to its title. Despite its hour-long runtime, we spend a fair amount of time with each member of the party. And for the most part, the play does feel like a party. The actors all do a fine job, each clearly having fun with their roles. Dominy and Janis pull double duty in two of the meatier bridesmaid roles, and each do a fine job navigating the tricky task of interpreting one’s own work. Madeline Burrows and Kristen Garaffo also earn big laughs as the foul-mouthed bridezilla and a dippy yoga enthusiast, respectively.

But Dominy and Janis’s script often seems to lose the thread, dulling the festive atmosphere. Some scenes uncomfortably veer too far into drama, and the playwrights lack the command to successfully manage the tonal shifts. The script leans too hard on topical and pop-culture references — the tired comparison of one of the characters to her Sex and the City analogue serves as a microcosm of the play’s sense of humor. And despite the actors’ best efforts, the play’s brevity prevents the characters from developing far beyond well-worn stereotypes. You get the feeling that it would have been much more fun to watch the cast and crew rehearse the play than it is to actually watch it.

There are things to admire in the production, though. Fine does an adept job of keeping things interesting in the play’s sole location, one of the bridesmaids’ U Street apartment. And for all its flaws, the script features enough local references to lend the play a nice amount of D.C. verisimilitude. (The bridesmaids greet the prospect of schlepping out to Rockville for brunch with the appropriate amount of disgust.) The Wedding Party will resonate with many, but, when the party’s over, it’s ultimately left too much on the table.

See it if: Bridesmaids (or My Best Friend’s Wedding, or 27 Dresses) is your Bible.

Skip it: The sound of wedding bells leaves you diving for the aspirin.

Photo courtesy of 10th Muse Productions