Review by Laurel Humes of Five Women: Incline Theatre
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. You guessed it – they are bridesmaids.
The purple and pink dresses are truly awful in Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre’s production; what fun costume designer Caren Brady must have had creating them. The year is 1993, which somewhat excuses the puffed sleeves and floppy hats. The real purpose of the dresses is to provide a running joke throughout the play.
When we catch up with the bridesmaids, the wedding is over and the reception is underway at the home of the bride’s wealthy parents. The entire play is set in the bride’s younger sister’s bedroom, where the women come and go to take breaks from the festivities.
The sister, Meredith (played by Audrey MacNeil), who has lived in her older sister’s perfect shadow her entire life. Just graduated from college, she is at loose ends about what to do next. Her current talents seem to be senseless rebellion and complaining.
Trisha (Talia Noelle Zoll), a sophisticated, sardonic woman who tells the others she looked out at the congregation during the wedding and “thought I’d slept with half the men.”
Georgeanne (Erin Carr), unhappily married and still (incredibly) sexually involved with the cad who got her pregnant years ago.
Frances (Brianna Bernard), who pronounces her values at every opportunity: “I am a Christian, I do not drink.” Until the company she is keeping chips away at her stance.
Mindy (Merritt Beischel), aloof and sarcastically witty. She is a lesbian, but her partner is boycotting the wedding over not being invited to the rehearsal dinner.
The first and second acts of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress are like two different plays. In Act 1, the characters are shallow and self-absorbed, the dialogue all gossip about men and sex. I felt some anger at playwright Alan Ball for creating these caricatures of women, despite the funny lines.
But don’t leave this wedding reception too soon. Act 2 is the payoff.
That’s when the play delves deeper into these women’s pasts and personalities. We get more details of the traumas some have experienced, which leads to a greater understanding of their current behavior.
The themes in Act 2 are more serious – childhood sex abuse, fear of close relationships, society’s demand that women be beautiful. There is still humor: Beischel’s character Mindy does a funny Miss America take-off.
The only man in the show appears late in the second act. He is Tripp, played by Matt Krieg. He and Zoll’s Trisha have a long, well-acted scene that evolves from flirtation to the possibility of a one-night stand to the potential for a real relationship.
Tripp is in the play to remind us that not all men are like the ones who have damaged the women characters we’ve come to know.
There is fine acting by everyone in the Five Women cast, most of whom are making their debut at Incline Theater. The actresses skillfully show us their evolution during the play, the hurt and tears behind the masks of coping they’ve been forced to wear.
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress continues through Feb. 11 at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, in the Incline District of East Price Hill. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or go to