‘Five Women’ bosom buddies on the stage

Cast members Mondis Vakili, left, and Ashley Rose, rehearse a scene from the second act of "Five Women." (Photo by Kameron Schmid)

Black box theaters can be difficult to light, set up and perform on. However, the cast and crew for American River College’s production of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” did an excellent job.

The play takes place in Knoxville, Tenn. in 1993, which makes the first hurdle the accent work. There were brief moments when characters would slip out of their southern drawls and other times when the dialogue didn’t seem to mix well with the accent they were using. None of this, however, detracted from the performance. Tracy Martin Shearer, who worked with the performers as dialect coach, did an excellent job. The voice work was very consistent, which can often be hard to do when the play takes place in one room.

There were no set or scene changes; the entirety of this two-act play takes place in one of the characters’ bedroom. The five bridesmaids had to occupy the space without overcrowding each other, and they accomplished this by venturing into sectors. There was a sitting area around a coffee table, two chairs by a mirror for makeup, a bed and a window seat in the corner. The performance went on without any glitches and the limited space was used effectively.

“Five Women” dances across the line between comedy and drama. At many parts in the first act it seems quite light-hearted, but as characters develop their issues, it gets real very fast. The playwright has a decent balance of these elements through most of the show, but about halfway through the second act, it changes tone completely and gets really dramatic. The ending has a return to form, reconciling the balance.

Several of the characters gave phenomenal performances. Michelle Pollack’s character, Meredith, jumps from her initial wedding-hating rebel who generates the audience’s laughter to a woman going through an emotional breakdown. The acting was top-notch with all of the characters as they developed beyond bridesmaids, and through dialogue about their experiences, bonded together as friends.

The production was phenomenal. “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” is an excellent way to break for the 2013/2014 ARC theater season. Students should make some time for it. The performance will run every weekend until Dec. 8.

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