Chicago Theater Review: BACHELORETTE (Profiles)

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by Dan Zeff on February 4, 2012

in Theater-Chicago

WOMEN BEHAVING BADLY

Attend the Profiles Theatre production of Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette and meet Gena, Katie, and Regan – three foul-mouthed, pot smoking, cocaine sniffing, pill popping young ladies that the audience can accept as funny, pathetic, repulsive, or tragic. The maidens spend about 70 minutes of stage time doing their drugs, stabbing every back in sight, and generally raising bitchiness to a new plateau. The play rides on the raucous, destructive (and sometimes self-destructive) conduct of its manic female characters, but it doesn’t have much plot.

Bachelorette by Leslye Headland at Profiles Theatre – directed by Darrell W. Cox – Chicago Theater Review by Dan Zeff

The locale is a luxury suite in a fancy New York City hotel. Regan occupies the suite with the consent of Becky, who is about to be married to a wealthy young man. To help pass the pre-nuptial hours, Regan, the maid of honor, invites Katie and Gena along, a pair of wanton young women who are alleged friends of the bride (Becky specifically instructed Regan not to invite them to the hotel, knowing that they are likely to explode out of control). The three young women immediately start doing drugs, drinking Becky’s booze, graphically discussing their sex lives, and backstabbing each other and especially Becky.

The one-act is basically a nonstop farrago of screaming insults and obscenities fueled by drugs and alcohol and a deep-seated desperation that afflicts all the gals. Katie, Gena, and Regan are coming to the end of their partying years with little to show for their past and nothing positive to anticipate in their future. They resent Becky for undeservedly marrying first – she’s fat, for heaven’s sake, and marrying a rich guy. Where is the justice in that?

Katie is the most manic of the threesome and the most self-destructive, repeatedly talking of suicide. Regan superficially is in the best shape, with a degree from Princeton, a job in a hospital, and a boyfriend about to become a physician. But Regan’s discontent is boundless. She enters the play after spending several hours with two young men she picked up earlier in the day who figure in the action later on. Gena wants to party but she recoils when things get out of hand, especially when Katie and Regan threaten to burn Becky’s oversized and expensive wedding gown.

Bachelorette by Leslye Headland at Profiles Theatre – directed by Darrell W. Cox – Chicago Theater Review by Dan ZeffThe atmosphere grows increasingly intense and ferocious, ending with the two men and Gena taking the overdosed Katie to the hospital, leaving Regan and Becky to end the play in a frenzy of recriminations. The suite is in a shambles, and so are the four women. The play resolves nothing, it just…stops. But the audience has seen enough to recognize that they have eavesdropped on four young females doomed by their own disappointment, frustration, jealousy, and uncontrolled appetites for sex and drugs.

Under Darrell W. Cox’s high energy directing, the characters hit the stage running and they never flag in their desperation and vulgarity. At times, the play turns into a door slamming farce, and much of the evening can be construed as comic. The play was a runaway hit in New York City with many commendations for its humor. But the Profiles production veers into an intensity that makes the comedy double-edged at best. The audience may laugh at the antics of the women, but it’s a nervous laughter. These are women on the emotional edge, and their furious and cruel conduct is no joke.

The Profiles Theatre has a genius for finding talented but little known young actresses and casting them in challenging roles that promote them into instant stars. And so it is in Bachelorette. All four actresses are making their Profiles debut and all four are stunning. Linda Augusta Orr is terrific as the over-the-top Katie, whose insistence that she wants to kill herself will probably be realized in short order. Hillary Marren is likewise outstanding as Regan, superficially the woman with the most going for her, yet maybe the most desperate. Amanda Powell keeps Gena on the boil throughout the play while a sensitive, decent woman may lurk beneath all her bad behavior.

Rakisha Pollard makes a late entrance as the much vilified and overweight Becky. It’s a tough role, with Becky first appearing after the other three women characters have already staked out considerable emotional and psychological territory. But Pollard’s Becky fits right in and carries the action to its tumultuous conclusion – never mind the final moment of pseudo reconciliation.

Adam Soule and Eric Burgher play the two young men who think they have fallen into a fantasy of available sex with the three girls, and in a luxury hotel to boot. But they actually have stepped into a maelstrom of overwrought and unpredictable females who mean trouble. Burgher is especially good as a guileless young man in over his head amid these volcanic young women.

Bachelorette by Leslye Headland at Profiles Theatre – directed by Darrell W. Cox – Chicago Theater Review by Dan Zeff

Technical credits are excellent, as usual, in the Profiles intimate playing space. Scott Davis designed the suite setting, Bekki Lambrecht the lighting, Erica Griese the costumes, and Jeffrey Levin the sound (and original music).

Audience opinions may differ on Bachelorette. Some viewers will love the play as an incisive set of character studies buoyed by razor sharp writing. Others will dismiss the play as a noisy and vulgar evening spent with disagreeable, pointless characters. But like it or hate it, the spectator will certainly be blown away by the acting.

photos by Shawn Cagle

Bachelorette
Profiles Theatre
ends on April 29, 2012 EXTENDED to May 27, 2012
for tickets, visit Profiles

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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