When Lit Moon premiered The Wedding in Santa Barbara last May, the response was immediate: The theater company known for experimental interpretations of classic works had done something slightly different, and had hit a new high note.
Back at Center Stage last weekend, The Wedding proved itself once again as a work of timeless satire-a beguiling send-up of the institution of marriage.
The Wedding borrows a few details from Nikolai Gogol’s mid-19th century Marriage, the play on which it is loosely based, but Lit Moon’s version is very much its own, transforming a full cast of characters into two: the Bachelor, played by the incomparable Stanley Hoffman, and the Bride, played concurrently by Victoria Finlayson, Sarah Halford, and Kate Louise Paulsen. Then of course there is the Band, Jim Connolly and Anna Abbey, whose original songs set the tone, combining the melodic catchiness befitting a musical with surreal sound effects and laugh-out-loud lyrics.
“What’s your problem?” one bride screams at another. “No problem,” comes the reply. “Marriage just seems so : strange.” “But everybody does it,” the third bride intones. Sometimes the brides speak as one, Greek chorus style, but more often they represent the kind of internal dialogue we all know well. “Isn’t there anyone else?” one bride cries in a moment of doubt. “Don’t be so greedy,” hisses another. While the brides-all in various postmodern versions of a white wedding gown, their fate apparently sealed-are either swooning in anticipation of a union yet to come or plotting their escape, the bachelor is pretty much at ease. Whether chowing down on a Sunday roast or lying back in bed as the frenzied women skitter around him, he finds the circumstances agreeable. And he never says a word.
Standout songs include “Paint a Picture,” a nostalgic little number featuring some heavy drinking on the part of the ladies as they lament their suitor’s perceived indifference, and “Love Election,” the fever pitch of the romance featuring air freshener, champagne, and a lot of rolling around on the bed.
Like any work of art that hits at our collective consciousness, The Wedding is deeply funny and also more than a little unnerving, as when the popcorn-munching bachelor pulls a baby out of the paper bag. Okay, so it’s just a Cabbage Patch doll. But the implications are clear.