Stage

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress: A Review

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Five Women Wearing the Same Dress follows five very different women united by some truly hideous bridesmaid dresses. At its heart it is concerned with female solidarity, promoting a positive and powerful message of sisterhood with some laughs thrown in a long the way. Whilst Five Women may not deliver entirely on the front of female empowerment: I found the amount of time devoted to discussing the actions of men a little disappointing, it was nevertheless an entertaining experience providing both moments of comedy and poignancy.

What Five Women achieves is a fantastic display of solidarity between women who have completely different lived experiences. Much credit here has to go to the cast, who shine as both individuals and as a group; the women in this play are clearly a talented bunch. My personal favourite character was Mindy (Lucia Proctor-Bonbright), a straight-talking but simultaneously thoughtful character, one of the only ‘out’ lesbians in her small town. Proctor-Bonbright really did a wonderful job in making Mindy such an energetic and likeable character; I found myself wishing I could be friends with Mindy in real life. The portrayal of Trisha (Lara Marks) also stood out: Marks carried herself with confidence and strength as the more experienced, knowledgeable bridesmaid. The contrast between a character like Trisha and that of Frances, who Nicole Jacobus did great justice to, delivering some hilariously pious one-liners, was heart warming. That all these women could form such a wonderful friendship despite their differences made me smile at the power of sisterhood (I realise that sounds clichéd but it’s true!).

Much credit here has to go to the cast, who shine as both individuals and as a group; the women in this play are clearly a talented bunch.

However, the play was written in 1993 and you can definitely tell. I had hoped for something which would feel fresh but rather at times the play came across a little dated. The writing frustrated me because there are some moments which have the potential for provoking truly interesting discussion; when Trisha and Frances have a confrontation over religion and the right to criticise it, or when Mindy highlights Meredith’s lack of action despite her apparent concern for social justice issues. These moments which are quickly passed over feel as if they could provide be significantly more relevant to women in the modern world than the gossiping about men which is so prevalent.

Moreover, I felt the introduction of Tripp, the only male character in the play, fell a little flat; I could not quite see the relevance of his dialogue with Trisha and it seemed a shame that a play which had seemed so focused on sisterhood had to end with the introduction of a man. Whilst Hassan Al-Habib did a good job as the slick Tripp, and Marks was wonderful as Trisha, the pair did not seem to have the chemistry required to make this scene sufficiently dynamic.

I had hoped for something which would feel fresh but rather at times the play came across a little dated.

Both the attention to detail in set design and costume contributed to the quality of this production. Whilst all the bridesmaids were wearing the same bright, pink dress, each character was accessorised to match her personality; Francis with pink crucifixes, Meredith with her black lipstick and heavy eye make up, Mindy with rainbow patches. These all served to bring out each character’s individual personality. I was equally impressed with the set design; a young women’s bedroom which seemed to perfectly illustrate her current confused place in the world, Guns N’ Roses Posters were juxtaposed with a sweet, little teddy bear on the bed. It was also this attention to detail which made the audience feel as if they truly were peeking into Meredith’s room and it contributed to the feelings of intimacy that this production fosters.

I enjoyed Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, the cast were a delight to watch, there were some genuinely funny moments and the attention to detail in terms of set design and costume were impressive. However, I did not leave the Pilch with the sense of female empowerment that the directors seemed to want to convey; in my opinion a potentially stand-out production was let down by the writing which often felt a little dated.

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