No one does bedroom farce like the British, and a fine example just blustered onto the New York stage with the Vital Theatre Company's sharp new production of Robin Hawdon's Perfect Wedding.
A man wakes up on his wedding morning in the hotel's bridal suite with a naked woman he doesn't know. Hilarity ensues, and a touching love story too. Teresa K. Pond's sure-handed direction shapes Hawdon's snappy dialogue, slapstick humor, and blurry maze of plot twists into a cheery evening of laughs and good feeling.
The dialogue has been slightly Americanized, but the British pedigree shows, not only in the door-slamming, under-skirt-hiding story, but in the occasional unnatural phrase (e.g. "very well"). However, 99 percent of the time, the actors (and the adaptation) hit just the right notes of absurdity, desperation, and overdoing it.
Elastic-faced Matt Johnson plays Bill, the panicked groom, with a sweetly expressive mixture of bug-eyed fear and little-boy-lostness. The beautiful Amber Bela Muse does a nice job with the straight role of the clueless bride, although there's a late scene or two where she seems a little too calm for a bride on her wedding day.
The effervescent Dayna Graber threatens to steal the show as the wisecracking, mint-popping hotel housekeeper who gets caught up in the proceedings. But Tom (Fabio Pires in a very promising Off-Broadway debut) distracts us with his finely tuned fury upon discovering that Bill's best man is by no means the only role he's destined to play in this careening plot. And Kristi McCarson, in the initially thankless "other woman" role of Judy, captivates with her stark revelations in Act II.
Ms. McCarson also looks stunning in the wedding dress, which gets its own credit, being on loan from English couturier Jane Wilson-Marquis. It's quite a gorgeous garment. I won't give away how Judy ends up wearing it. Suffice it to say the bride's mother (Ghana Leigh) is involved.
Enough. Whatever troubles you may bring with you into the theater, this crackerjack production will make you forget them, at least for a rollicking hour and forty-five minutes. Perfect Wedding plays at the Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street, New York, through Aug. 2. Get tickets online or call (212) 579-0528.
Photos: Sun Productions, Inc.