A Perfect Wedding is now on stage at Florida Studio Theatre. Photo by Maria Lyle.
It was a treat Friday evening to get a first glimpse of Florida Studio Theatre’s renovated Gompertz Theatre. Much remains to be done before the entire project, which includes adding new, smaller theaters to FST’s property on First Street, is complete in a few months. But to enter the Gompertz, with its new lobby, new restrooms (hallelujah) and new seats (planted at an incline that improves sight lines, but curved in an attractive semicircular pattern around the stage, and upped in number) was an exciting experience.
Unfortunately, for me seeing the new and improved theater was pretty much the highlight of the night. The play chosen for this reopening, Robin Hawdon’s farce Perfect Wedding, didn’t live up to the expectations the wonderful surroundings set.
That’s not to fault the hard-working cast members, who throw themselves into this nonsense (about a bridegroom-to-be who wakes up in his hotel room with a hangover and a strange, naked woman in his bed) with abandon. They’re all up to the challenges of the split-second timing, requisite door slamming, and complicated dialogue to avoid revealing the truth of the situation, as the semi-amnesiac groom, Bill (Graham Stuart Allen), embroils his best man, Tom (Daryl Embry), and even an unwitting chambermaid (Kate Siepert) in increasingly convoluted machinations to keep the bride (Faith Sandberg) from finding out what’s going on.
Throw into the mix the bride’s rather grande dame mother (Lisa McMillan) and the true identity of that naked woman (Jenny Strassburg) and you should have the makings of an entertaining, if hardly outstanding, comedy.
But although one can appreciate the efforts of the actors (especially Siepert, who’s a bright spot as the maid with theatrical ambitions and a unique sense of style), it just feels like you can see every twist and turn of the play coming, and there’s nothing original or clever enough in the plot or language to raise the level of Perfect Wedding above your average sitcom. That’s despite the expert direction of Bruce Jordan (best known for his long-running comedy success, Shear Madness) and an attractive, well-detailed set by Michael Lasswell that provides the perfect space for all the manic running around.
That said, this is one of those times when a critic may be justified in adding that the audience enjoyed the show much more than I did. Perfect Wedding
continues through Sept. 9; for tickets call 366-9000 or go to floridastudiotheatre.org