Female relationships can be…complicated. And the friendships at the core of Bachelorette—onstage at the Stonzek Theatre in Lake Worth through February 11—are as messy as they come.
This compact, 90-minute dark comedy is part of playwright Leslye Headland’s Seven Deadly Sins play cycle, and meant to represent the sin of gluttony. It follows a trio of friends as they take up residence in a posh Manhattan suite the evening before another friend’s (or is it foe?) wedding. Debauchery on a pathological level ensues, resulting in a ripped gown, countless half-consumed Champagne bottles, and at least one hospital visit.
Presented in the Stonzek’s intimate black box, this production of Bachelorette is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. Director Suzanne Dunn turns the audience into voyeurs by having her actors enter through the center of the space, thereby engulfing everyone within this imaginary suite and the very real problems these characters deal with on a daily basis.
And there are problems aplenty. The three core women (and the oft-absent bride) are high school friends who have maintained various levels of connectedness since graduation. Maid of honor Regan is technically the only person invited to be in the room, which bride Becky has bestowed upon her in order to spend the night with her very rich and never-seen fiancé. Regan has taken it upon herself to invite Gena and Katie, two besties who have had a falling out with Becky and weren’t asked to the actual wedding. Later in the evening, Regan corrals two randos (Jeff and Joe) to join in on the fun, and it’s not long before they’re significantly entrenched in issues above their pay grade.
Throughout it all, Regan, Gena, and Katie spew vitriol about Becky’s weight and the absurd idea that she’s managed to beat them to the altar. Yeah, it’s harsh. All of this stems from their own issues with themselves, proving once and for all that your mom was right—those bullies were just jealous of you.
The cast of Bachelorette achieves a performance trifecta: They’ll make you laugh, gasp, and go, “Oh, honey, no.” As ringleader Regan, Charlotte Otremba brings an all-too-recognizable mean girl quality to a character who does—and says—unspeakably hurtful things. Like any good villain, Otremba undercuts her evil deeds with a true vulnerability that personifies Regan’s backstory and hints at her fragile emotions.
The dynamic duo of Gena (Megan Pollak) and Katie (Jessica Scheidt) set the tone for the entire play, entering with the energy of two Tasmanian devils in heat. They quickly mark their territory by popping a few corks and proclaiming that this will be the best night ever. (Spoiler: It won’t be.) Where Katie is all broken party girl, Gena is 100-percent damaged goods. Scheidt captures Katie’s uncertainty about the future and need to hang on to her long-gone prom queen glory, while Pollak reacts beautifully to the numerous references to her tattered past.
The supporting cast of Michael Conner (Jeff), Patrick Price (Joe), and Nancy Dickenson (Becky) make the most of every minute they spend onstage. Conner excels at playing the pseudo-intellectual, delivering such eye roll–worthy lines as, “Tonight, it’s not tomorrow. It’s not yesterday. It’s right this second.” Meanwhile, Price is a stone-cold sweetheart, tenderly taking care of Katie and rehashing former traumas with enough sincerity to illicit tears. And despite having the fewest lines of the group, Dickenson is the perfect Becky. Perhaps it’s the spot-on preppy costume or the fact that we hear so much about her character from the others, but when Dickenson finally arrives it’s like a legend has entered the room. And while she might be Becky with the good hair (golden locks, for the win), she’s not immune to Regan’s unbelievably crude remarks and devastating truth bombs.
Needless to say, Bachelorette is meant for mature audiences only. There’s ample cursing, lots of drug use, and just a touch of projectile vomit. But material like this finds a home at the off-the-beaten-path Stonzek Theatre. The Stonzek is a welcomed voice in the Palm Beach County theater scene, and the cast and crew’s talents are on full display in Bachelorette.