Five women five stories one dress

When bridesmaids take refuge in a bedroom comedy follows

Theatre BSMT is staging what director Amy Dettling calls “an escape from the winter blues play” as its holiday offering.

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress takes place at a wedding reception in Knoxville Tennessee at the home of Tracy the bride. All the audience witnesses of this reception however is the wedding’s five bridesmaids — all childhood friends (and relatives) of the bride — finding refuge in a bedroom talking reminiscing and renewing old friendships.

(The audience never meets the bride by the way.)

There’s the bride’s sarcastic younger sister Meredith (Kas Nixon) who harbours a dramatic secret that’s revealed during the play.

There’s Georgeanne Darby (Helen Knight) whose marriage is in trouble and who was once “knocked up” by one of Tracy’s boyfriends.

There’s Mindy (Joleen Ceraldi) the groom’s successful lesbian sister.

For contrast there’s Frances (Jamie Matchullis) Tracy’s naive and religious cousin.

Finally there’s Trisha (Amy Burks) a former friend of Tracy’s who has something of a bad reputation because of the number of guys she’s been with in her quest for Mr. Right.

Dettling says Trisha acts as “the eye of the storm” in Five Women around which much of the action centres.

“All the women went their separate ways in life and then were brought together for the wedding. They discover that none of them are really friends with the bride anymore but they renew their friendships with each other” says Dettling.

Enter into the mix one Tommy Valentine Tracy’s former fiancé who also dated and/or slept with most of the bridesmaids.

“He’s inappropriate with all of the bridesmaids to put it lightly” says Dettling with a laugh describing Tommy as a “slimeball.”

While audiences never see the infamous Tommy he acts as a catalyst to bring the girls together “to rise above what Tommy Valentine has done to them all” she adds.

At this point Dettling acknowledges that Five Women Wearing the Same Dress has its fair share of “male bashing” but there is one male character — “Tripp” Davenport (Kyall Rakoz) — who enters the play at the end to “redeem all men.”

And what would a play about bridesmaids be without some hideous dresses? Dettling says the production doesn’t disappoint.

“They are wearing dresses in this horrid peach colour with big white bows and big crinolines.”

Alan Ball is the pen behind Five Women Wearing the Same Dress . He is well known in film and television circles for writing American Beauty and True Blood and for creating the acclaimed series Six Feet Under .

One might think then that this play would veer into cinematic territory. Not so says Dettling.

Five Women is very much a play. He has definitely written this for the theatre. For one thing it all takes place in Meredith’s room” she adds.

Dettling also refers to Ball’s ease of dialogue and his “strong grasp” of the characters.

“He does a good job of exploring the sisterhood…. He has done a really wonderful job of nailing his characters especially Trisha” she says.

Is there anything in this girl-power play then for men? Dettling says “yes” pointing to the play’s abundant comedy.

And she adds the play’s main theme is genderless.

“It’s about the strength of friendship and how it can uplift us in our darkest time.”