Dates: 12 - 28 February 2004
Venue: Presentation House Theatre, N. Vancouver.

Reviewer: John Jane


(l-r) Sawatsky, Ruel, Coleman, Thaddeus, & Smith

The deliberately misleading title of Alan Ballís Five Women Wearing the Same Dress may be a little gimmicky. However, there is nothing gimmicky about this Horned Moon Production. Director Michael Scholar Jr. gets solid performances from the entire female cast.

The "same dress" in this case is actually five near-identical, fusia bridesmaids dresses worn with varying degrees of comfort and agreement by very different women with seemingly little in common beyond their distaste for the dresses and obvious mutual indifference to the bride.

All the action takes place in the simply furnished room belonging to Meredith, the bride's younger sister, one of the five bridesmaids, while the wedding reception is held in the garden.

First on the scene is Frances (Sarah Sawatsky), a naively optimistic Christian fundamentalist, who enters the room to find it empty. She comes across a bracelet and cannot resist the temptation to try it on. When suddenly alerted by Meredithís approach, she panics and scurries under the bed to avoid embarrassment.

Enter Meredith (Mitzi Thaddeus), a precocious rebel with a volatile personality. She can only show resentment at having to take part in her sisterís wedding. The two are soon joined by Trisha (Robin Ruel), a street-wise and cynical bachelorette armed with all the overt confidence that goes with her fashion model looks and the melodramatic Georgeanne (Bronwen Smith), the only married bridesmaid.





Eventually, we meet Mindy (Rebecca Coleman), the facetious lesbian sister of the groom who enjoys teasing the innocent Frances with her arcane humour.

The lively dialogue between the women, though often raunchy and indulgent, begins to reveal some dark secrets. As revelations unfold, in a verisimilar fashion, we discover a common element in the ironically named Tommy Valentine who appears to be both charmer and cad. The character is not physically seen, but his presence is dominant through the groupís conversations.

One has to sympathize with Daniel Thomas, who has the only male role as Tripp Davenport, Trishaís hopeful suitor. He appears too earnest and self-effacing; his dialogue with Ruelís character seems forced and awkward.

Mitzi Thaddeus as Meredith

A particularly strong and complex performance is given by Mitzi Thaddeus as the sullen and sarcastic Meredith. Also, Sarah Sawatsky, likely the most experienced actor in this talented ensemble does well in the tricky, pivotal role of Frances.

The 160 seat North Vancouver venue is ideally suited for this coup de theatre. The proximity of audience to the players offers the extra dimension of connectedness.


© 2004, John Jane