“I’m beginning to suppose this wedding ceremony wants a villain,” says Carlo, as if the one she has semi-crashed had been a homicide thriller.
Actually there are many suspects behaving badly, chief amongst them Carlo herself, a contract snark machine with a gap in her coronary heart and an alcohol-fueled style for the piercing aperçu. She terrifies the kids’s desk with a hellish lesson in regards to the destiny of romance: “the worst ache you’ll really feel in your life.” She’s additionally, uh-oh, the bride’s former lover — , the one who uncared for to R.S.V.P.
Although it’s not by a protracted shot the primary time a comedy has mined the nuptials-with-an-ex-to-grind setup, Bryna Turner’s “At the Wedding,” which opened on Monday on the Claire Tow Theater, affords a recent and trenchant tackle the style. And in Carlo, the bruised coronary heart of the story, it affords the actor Mary Wiseman, together with her curly pink mop piled excessive like a lesbian Lucy, an excellent showcase for her split-level comedian genius.
I say split-level as a result of, with Wiseman, there’s all the time one factor happening verbally upstairs and one other happening emotionally within the basement. Sipping from an limitless succession of wedding ceremony libations at some sort of barn in Northern California, her Carlo makes like a porcupine, taking pictures quills within the type of quips. Was not the ceremony, she gaily asks one other visitor, “aggressively heterosexual”? (Her ex, Eva, has married a person.) “I virtually thought they had been going to begin checking for her hymen proper there in entrance of us.”
The traces are humorous; Turner has a boxer’s sense of the two-punch rhythm of jokes. Nevertheless it’s Wiseman, who first stole the highlight as a brilliantly dim belle in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s “An Octoroon,” who makes them hilarious by making them unhappy on the similar time. Although focusing her ire on the marriage as a false celebration — “I’ve seen extra convincing fireplace drills,” she says — Carlo is de facto gnawing on the scar of attachment itself. For individuals who aren’t any good at staying in love, gift-grabs like this are worse than embarrassments; they’re torture.
The sprightly, 70-minute LCT3 manufacturing, directed with wit by Jenna Worsham, provides us each of these parts instantly. A big, labial paper-flower chandelier hangs from the ceiling of the set, by Maruti Evans; a jaunty however ominous “Til Loss of life” signal radiates its neon message amid Oona Curley’s string lights and lanterns. However neither the play nor the design fully endorses Carlo’s one-sided view. The eclectic playlist (sound by Fan Zhang) is strictly the sort you’d wish to dance to, and the flattering costumes (by Oana Botez) are the sort you need individuals to bop in.
It’s particularly sensible that Eva (Rebecca S’manga Frank) is allowed to look wonderful in a really elegant robe; she’s no comic-book bridezilla, and although we by no means be taught precisely what occurred in her relationship with Carlo, it’s evident she had good motive to finish it. And if Carlo, in grief, has turn out to be an admonitory fury — Turner explicitly compares her to the Historic Mariner in Coleridge’s poem, accosting wedding ceremony company together with her ghastly story — her respectable beefs by no means fully obscure our view of the opposite partygoers as jumbles of kindness and monstrousness.
The play is structured to disclose that contradiction in a sequence of well-acted, one-on-one encounters with Carlo. An undermine-y bridesmaid named Carly (Keren Lugo) tells her that “it wouldn’t be any failure in the event you determined to depart,” however later returns to consolation her. Eva’s sloshed mom, Maria (Carolyn McCormick), dismisses the R.S.V.P. gaffe however then dismisses Carlo herself. A visitor named Eli (Will Rogers) confides that he intends to suggest to his associate on the social gathering, thus (as Carlo warns him) “emotionally hijacking” the festivities — which is outwardly her job, not his. But he’s much more advanced than he at first appears.
So is Leigh (Han Van Sciver), an androgynous Lothario who makes use of they/them pronouns. Leigh’s flirtation with Carlo — suggesting they ditch the social gathering for a romp some place else — at first appears harmless sufficient, though Leigh’s brother is the groom. When that innocence is later introduced into query, and the egocentric aspect of sexual freedom surfaces, the play nonetheless refuses to disown Leigh fully.
If Turner’s religion in her characters shouldn’t be all the time returned — Maria, who will get just one scene, feels underwritten, and Leigh, regardless of Van Sciver’s cunning efficiency, by no means fairly coheres — her religion within the viewers is a wholly profitable funding. Her jokes usually have lengthy lead instances, the setup in a single scene, the payoff in one other. The plot, too, retains nicely forward of you, trusting you’ll survive in pleasurable uncertainty till its unfastened threads are finally gathered. In a single case, it takes virtually 40 pages of script for a throwaway line spoken by the overburdened waiter (Jorge Donoso) to ship its needle-prick of a reward.
That authorial endurance is a part of what makes “On the Wedding ceremony” so recent; although there are many one-liners, it isn’t a yuk-yuk comedy foisting its laughs at you or over-signaling its intentions. (“Bull in a China Shop,” Turner’s skilled playwriting debut, seen at LCT3 in 2017, was a bit extra raucous and insistent.) Additionally revivifying is the best way Turner reshapes the marriage style for our time, inviting new characters to the social gathering.
She does this far too thoughtfully and assuredly for it to look stylish or polemical. Somewhat, the broadening is central to the play’s examination of how our conventional methods of uniting individuals operate in a world that has all the time been extra numerous than its establishments.
For “On the Wedding ceremony,” these establishments embrace extra than simply marriage, which many queer individuals can now select if they need, in kinds that, like Eva’s spectacular robe, are customized match. Additionally they embrace love itself, and the lack of it. For Carlo, and for all of us typically, love is the albatross strung round our necks, and the unhappy story we’re cursed to inform ever after. It’s humorous if it’s not you.
On the Wedding ceremony
By April 17 on the Claire Tow Theater, Manhattan; lct.org. Operating time: 1 hour 10 minutes.