Members of the cast of Dressing for a Wedding. Photo by Emily Cooper.
Members of the cast of Dressing for a Wedding. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Playwright Aaron Bushkowsky tries to cover a lot of ground in his new dark comedy Dressing for a Wedding.

As the base for its story, mother Carolyn is planning her daughter Dee-Dee’s wedding. Gathered for the wedding rehearsal, we quickly discover that the day is more about Carolyn than it is about her daughter. As Carolyn fusses, her daughter makes it clear that she would rather be married in the forest, with the reception consisting of a doobie on the beach.

The first fifteen minutes of Dressing for a Wedding plays out much like a sitcom, with many wedding tropes on display: mother and daughter at loggerheads; Carolyn and her husband having marital problems; son-in-law nervous around his new mother-in-law. As Bushkowsky peels back the layers though, we discover a dark family secret has become the wedge, and is the catalyst for much of the tension. Not surprisingly, the remainder of the play deals with each person coming to terms with that tragedy. Interwoven inside the wedding rehearsal story are fantasy sequences that relive some of the key moments that brought the family to this point.

Clocking in at a mere seventy minutes though, Dressing for a Wedding tries to be too many things in such a short period of time, allowing little time to connect with its characters. The result is a lack of resonance; while your brain knows you’ve just seen something emotional, your heart just doesn’t have enough time to catch-up.

There are some nice performances here, especially from Josh Drebit and Gili Roskies as the would-be couple.  Drebit plays the son-in-law with just the right amount quirkiness that allows him to get away with some of the ridiculous (and creepy) things that come out of his mouth. Roskies, as daughter Dee-Dee, not only has a wonderful tone to her voice as she sings a number of songs, but also walks a nice line between what she wants and dealing with her mother. Gary Jones as husband Bob is relegated largely to guest star status, popping in every so often to remind us that he and his wife are having problems. As the overbearing and controlling mother, Deborah Williams is purse-lipped through much of the show, but manages to let go in a particularly funny fantasy scene with Drebit.

Yvan Morissette’s simple set design makes a great backdrop for Emily Cooper’s memory projections, and Sheila White gets to have fun with the costumes with most of the characters finding themselves in different outfits each time they make an entrance.

The final scene, as Roskies sings “Hold Me Now”, are the most emotionally real moments of the play. It’s a shame it takes so long for those feelings to finally kick-in.

Dressing for a Wedding by Aaron Bushkowsky. Directed by Sarah Rodgers. A Solo Collective Theatre production. On stage at Performance Works (1218 Cartwright St, Granville Island) until November 29. Visit http://solocollective.ca for tickets and information.