Nestled deep in the bowels of a nondescript cement block building, down a drab hallway that gives the average visitor flashbacks of slogging to geometry class, lies a tiny theatre that just might house the best college theatre program in BC.
Although Studio 58 has been a cradle of young Vancouver actors since 1965, it’s doubtful that it has seen the likes of A Perfect Wedding before.
Directed by Sherry J Yoon, the play is a breakneck romp that never lets the audience catch its breath. It’s immensely entertaining and completely unique–and very gay. There are passionate lesbian makeout scenes, several out (and not-so-out) gay characters and a cadre of fabulous wedding planners that would put the Queer Eye guys to shame.
Yoon gives credit to playwright Charles Mee for the diverse skin tones and sexualities among the characters.
“I think the play is cleverly inclusive, written by a man who has lived in one of the most diverse cities in the world; diversity of race, sexuality, religion, and lifestyle,” says Yoon. “It’s easy to see the impact of where [Mee] lives on his work. I hope the gay community comes to the play because I am really interested in the reflections and comments of non-theatregoing communities as well as the folks who come out to see theatre all the time.”
Yoon can trace her directorial roots back to childhood when her first theatrical experience didn’t quite live up to expectations.
“The first theatre production I ever saw was The Wizard of Oz and I remember thinking that it was a little like the movie but a lot smaller,” says Yoon. “I vaguely remember being a little disappointed. It was proscenium staging, so I think I was figuring out the box of the TV over the box of a live stage. I think I was sorting out scale and perspective.”
The audience might be left sorting out a few things after the curtain falls on The Perfect Wedding, as well.
Those who are looking for a tight, linear plot might want to look elsewhere. The production pulses and twitters off in so many tangents it can be hard to follow them all.
And, Mee crams as many words as possible into every line. For the newbie theatregoer, straining to catch everything can be a little disorienting. But, by the second act, the audience adjusts to an almost musical dialogue style.
The set, designed by Jay Dodge, is Spartan, thanks in large part to the smallish size of the theatre. As it turns out, a simple set works out for the best. They say if you’re going to give yourself a lot of space on stage you had better use it, and these actors use every inch. They get a solid workout running back and forth from one side of the stage to the other.
In fact, Yoon could start a The Perfect Wedding diet plan for all those looking to drop a few pounds over the holidays.
Still, this play could really have used an editor. It could easily shed 15 or 20 minutes without losing a whit of substance. By 10:30 pm the audience is so satiated it almost flees the theatre.
But, all in all, these flaws are minor and barely dim the overall brilliance of the production.
The actors, to a person, do a fantastic job of making their characters seem real, which can be tough in a 27-member ensemble production that runs two hours and 15 minutes.
The second act finale is a rousing musical number that drives the audience to hysterics. If the sheer energy that is expended during this play could be harnessed, Langara wouldn’t have to pay its power bill for the rest of the winter.
The story centres around two families: the bride, played by the spectacular Trisha Cundy, and her family; and the much different groom, played by Hamza Adam and his family. Soon after meeting the bride’s family, chaos breaks out and both families end up in the woods looking for each other.
It wouldn’t be possible to give this production a higher recommendation, but be prepared for something the likes of which you’ve never seen. Imagine Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on electroshock therapy with an LSD chaser.
It couldn’t have been more wonderful.