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Theater Review (LA): Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte at the Colony Theatre

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Mary’s Wedding is a memory play by award-winning Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte. It concerns a young girl who dreams about her lover just before her wedding to another man. The time is World War I and the locales are Canada and the battlefields of Europe.

The play has the sweep of a romance novel and the emotions of a story of lost love. Unfortunately in the current production, what might have been a poetic and even moving story becomes an experience for the audience of confusion and boredom.

Mary (Ashley Bell) is a transplanted Brit who falls in love with the farm boy down the road. They meet on a stormy night and fall in love despite the fact that Mary’s mother disapproves. The play is a series of flashbacks and flash forwards which take place in Canada and then on the battlefield. Since it is a dream, Mary can follow her lover Charlie (Brett Ryback) onto the battlefields of Europe. She dreams that she is his commanding officer, Lt. Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, as they both participate in Flowerdew’s legendary final charge at Moreuil Wood in France. (I am sure this fact would have more grabbing power in Canada, but to an American audience it is just another battle.)

This jumping around is not helped by the fact it all takes place in one location: a set by David Potts that must have been difficult for the actors to move around on, given the fact that the grassy levels were split into such narrow walking areas, and that the horse, which figures prominently, is made of wood, and you worry about the young man as he must mime galloping across the fields. (As a sculpture, though, I did like the horse.)

The acting for the most part was delivered at such a high pitch that it eventually became not only hard to follow but annoying to listen to. Bell, whom I admired so in The Voice Of The Prairie, ends up sounding shrill. Perhaps this is a choice necessitated by her having to switch to Flowerdew, a male character. Ryback fares a little better but is still a victim of the frantic pacing. The fault must be laid in the lap of director David Rose, whose work I have so admired in the past. Perhaps he was afraid of the sometimes-sloppy sentiment of the piece. In any case the show was frustrating to watch because I kept feeling that there was a decent enough play in there somewhere.


Mary’s Wedding plays at the Colony Theatre until Nov. 23rd.

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