Review: Strong Performances Buoy Dark Comedy 'Five Women Wearing The Same Dress'

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 16, 2022

Gabrielle McCauley, Amie Lytle, Daria Montaquila, Mary Mullane in "Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" <br>
Gabrielle McCauley, Amie Lytle, Daria Montaquila, Mary Mullane in "Five Women Wearing The Same Dress"

Burbage Theatre Company's "Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" is a darker version of the 2012 smash comedy "Bridesmaids," which depicted the wacky misadventures of female friends at a wedding.

Tart-tongued Meredith (Steph Rodger), naïve and hyper-religious Frances (Mary Mullane), flirty and insecure Georgeanne (Daria Montaquila), freewheeling Trish (Gabrielle McCauley), and Mindy (Amie Lytle), the only lesbian in the group, share gossip and secrets during the wedding reception of Meredith's sister, Tracy. The action takes place in Meredith's bedroom, which serves as a refuge from the tedium of the day's festivities.

Wearing horribly gaudy pink dresses, the women consume a lot of alcohol and pass around a marijuana joint to take the edge off of their frustrations and desires for romance and sex.

"Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" was written by Alan Ball, who specializes in showcasing emotionally damaged characters. Ball wrote the Oscar-winning suburban satire "American Beauty" and the acclaimed HBO funeral home drama "Six Feet Under."

Meredith is bitterly jealous of Tracy (she brands her as a "rich, white Republican bitch") and reveals a deep dark secret involving one of Tracy's ex-boyfriends.

Georgeanne is trapped in a loveless marriage and lusts after men at the wedding reception.

Mindy, who is the sister of the groom, bristles when her partner is prohibited from attending the wedding.

Frances lashes out at her friends for their immoral behavior and defends her trust in the Holy Bible.

Not to be outdone, Meredith says men are to blame for destroying the economy and the environment. No disagreement here.

Director Allison Crews generates strong performances from the cast and keeps the action moving at a quick pace.

Rodger is fiery and passionate as the troubled Meredith. She is the most haunted and angry of all the women. Meredith rebels against tradition by ditching her high heels and wearing sneakers instead.

McCauley, a Burbage veteran, is engaging and believable as Trish, who has a flirtation with the handsome Tripp, winningly played by Andrew Medeiros. The two performers have real chemistry together.

Lytle brings a raw intelligence and integrity to the stage as the outcast Mindy struggles to win acceptance.

Ball's dialogue is frequently witty — "I look like a hooker from the Twilight Zone!," Mindy says about her wedding attire.

At one point, the friends find themselves speculating about Jesus' sexuality and Mindy wonders why make-up is so often named after food.

Besides the laugh lines and bits of physical comedy (Frances hides under the bed at one point), there are some serious subjects explored such as molestation, drug use, Infidelity, promiscuity, family dysfunction, and depression.

"Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" is downbeat, but fascinating at the same time. Anyone who's been to a wedding can relate to these characters' sense of envy and longing for more in their lives.

"Five Women Wearing The Same Dress" runs through April 3 at the Burbage Theatre Company, 59 Blackstone Boulevard, Pawtucket, RI. Masks are required to be worn during the performance and patrons must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 upon entry. For tickets, visit the theater's website.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.