Alan Ball’s comic play about five bridesmaids wearing incredibly ugly dresses at a wedding for a woman they all dislike is a sort of Steel Magnolias—with younger women and a double heaping of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.
As Tracie’s wedding reception is about to begin, first one, then two, and finally, all five of her bridesmaids end up in the bedroom that belongs to her younger sister—and punkish bridesmaid—Meredith. The usual wedding difficulties include the presence of ex-lovers, potential lovers, and the possibility of drunken, meaningless sex, plus the alcohol-fueled revelations of secrets.
What unfolds is, for the most part, predictable, but in this production, directed by Shawn B. O’Neal, who has a deft hand with comedy, the fun is in the chemistry the actresses bring to the stage. It’s all a matter of style, and these women—Stephanie Hodson, Amber Marsh, Kellie Yvonne Raines, Rebecca Scott and Katie Walton—have it like Vogue magazine, with enough booze and pot to make them tell it like it is.
Five Women is lighter fare; although it does touch on some heavier topics—slut shaming, abortion, sexual abuse and homophobia—for the most part, it ekes out the laughter in being female and struggling with expectations and conventions. Go with your best girlfriends. It might strike closer to home than you expect—and, at the very least, these dresses will make you feel better about every bridesmaid dress you’ve ever donned.