Contributions from Julia Pilkington
On Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7, Deep End APO showcased its latest production, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, written by Alan Ball and directed by Margaret Jacobson ’17. Performed in the Flaten Art Barn, the show was highly attended, nearly having to turn people away at both of the run’s evening shows.
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress tells the story of five bridesmaids whose only common trait is that they are all forced to wear the same ugly pink dress at a wedding where none of them are actually friends of the bride. Under these and other uncomfortable circumstances, the women slowly reveal their surprising similarities and bond over shared experiences and revelations of their darkest secrets.
Written and presumably set in 1993, the show and its themes have the potential to come across as dated. It still felt relevant though, even 20 years removed from the show’s setting. It dealt with issues concerning consent, abuse, hook-up culture, perceptions of homosexuality, standards of femininity and masculinity and emotional trauma that are still relevant today.
Five Women’s bride, Tracy, surprisingly never appears on stage, existing only in the conversations between the other characters. In this way, Tracy is used as a representation of the stereotype of the ideal woman; seemingly perfect with good looks, a succesful career and an even more succesful new husband. Yet any actual physical manifestation of such perfection is elusive and only serves to make other women feel bad about themselves for not reaching the same ideals.
In retrospect however, it becomes clear that Tracy’s dream life is only a hollow illusion. Her life is directionless, and she is without any real friendship. In selecting her bridesmaids, Tracy had to resort to her only options: two friends to whom she has not spoken in years.
Tricia, played by Avery Baker ’19, acts as Tracy’s foil. She stands up for feminism and is always willing to defy the preconceptions that people have of her and women in general. In one scene, she and usher Tripp Davenport (Aaron Telander ’19) express feelings towards each other, and Tricia is able to get across what she wants without letting him and his assumption of her take control.
Mindy, the groom’s outspoken lesbian sister (Emiko Hinds ’18), is another strong character that confidently defies the expectations placed on her. This is exemplified in a scene where she mockingly imitates the Miss America pageant:
“I am just so thrilled to be poised on the brink of a fabulous career […] but most importantly being a good wife and mother and a good American!” Hinds (as Mindy) said.
The four other actors also contributed to the show’s quality with their intriguing characterization. Hannah Nilsson ’19 and Sophie Rossiter ’19 brought a lot of the play’s comedy with their portrayals of the bride’s sheltered, fundamentalist Christian cousin and her bitter former high school sidekick, respectively.
Conversely, Melanie Thompson ’19 brought Five Women to its dramatic peak as the bride’s angsty little sister with a dark secret.
Despite a successful staging, the show’s production did not come without its fair share of challenges. Jacobson originally intended to have Five Women be performed in Thorson lounge, before discovering ResLife’s new policy against multiple night performances.
Then, after switching venues to the Art Barn, the show’s 2:00 p.m. matinee was canceled and later rescheduled due to the State Cross Country Meet cutting off access to the Art Barn.
Opening night also faced a seating crisis, but Public Safety saved the day with a a last minute delivery of folding chairs.
Five Women was Deep End APO’s first and final show of the fall season, but audiences can expect more over interim and second semester.