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Just a few hours to go until the long-awaited wedding: (from left) Cathy Lawlor, Nicola Abela Garrett and Kate DeCesare in Secret Bridesmaids’ Business. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Just a few hours to go until the long-awaited wedding: (from left) Cathy Lawlor, Nicola Abela Garrett and Kate DeCesare in Secret Bridesmaids’ Business. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Theatre
Secret Bridesmaids’ Business
St James Cavalier

When a close group of people are put under pressure in a specific situation and pushed by unravelling events, their bonds of loyalty and friendship are often put to the test.

Beneath the outer layer of wedding jitters and banter, their characters emerged strongly as individuals, going beyond the Kinsella treatment that one often comes to expect of inverse romcoms

The effects of this were dealt with much sensitivity and humour by Elizabeth Coleman in her play Secret Bridesmaids’ Business, which was put up by MADC over the last two weekends and which will also be running this weekend.

The staging at St James was handled very well by director Chiara Hyzler – yet another strong female director this month, thanks also to Stephanie Spiteri’s excellent set design.

The theatre in the round was given quite the makeover for this play, with the most prominent change being the removal of the seating on one side of the stage and an extension of the seating area built outwards so that the performance space became two-tiered.

This added space and dimension to the play which took place in the hotel suite where Cathy Lawlor’s Meg Bacon is impatiently waiting to sort out the last-minute details with her demanding and flustered mother, Colleen, played waspishly by Vanessa MacDonald, the day before her wedding. She is also waiting for her bridesmaid Lucy (Nicola Abela Garrett) to arrive and looking to her other bridesmaid, Angela, played by Kate DeCesare, for comfort.

These four women portrayed their character stereotypes to perfection and herein lay the superficial humour – thanks also to their strong dynamic and to Hyzler’s good eye for character comedy. However, what I enjoyed the most about their performances was the fact that beneath the outer layer of wedding jitters and banter, their characters emerged strongly as individuals, going beyond the Kinsella treatment that one often comes to expect of inverse romcoms.

Lawlor gave an effortlessly sweet and earnest interpretation as Meg, to whom the impetuous and feisty Lucy chooses to reveal a secret which could potentially have very serious consequences on her wedding plans.

Abela Garrett shone as Lucy, and her ability to portray this strong, but fiercely loyal and kind young woman, is a tribute to her increasing maturity in taking on diverse roles.

When Lucy reveals that she’s found out through the grapevine that James (David Ellul), Meg’s fiancé, might have been sowing a little more than his wild oats a little too close to the wedding, she has no qualms in telling Meg ­– but before she does, Angela convinces her to confirm the rumour.

DeCesare gave Angela a much-needed softer side and was less ready to judge James than Lucy was, while also suggesting that perhaps, if his fling with Naomi Bartlett was over, Meg might be better off not knowing what went on – no use raking up the past when the future has so much promise.

Much of the humour, of course, lay in the two bridesmaids’ attempts at keeping the dirty secret from Meg and her mother, whose complete obliviousness to anything being amiss made the situation even funnier – a part which McDonald played well as the rather snobbish, demanding Colleen.

However, when Meg asks Lucy to leave, following the revelation, Bartlett gets unwittingly roped in by the oblivious Colleen to replace her as bridesmaid, much to Angela’s horror.

Elektra Anastasi embued Bartlett’s character with the right amount of guilt and awkwardness given the situation, and the suppressed panic that both Angela and James feel when they see her only serves to make the dialogue funnier – especially when Angela is forced to tell Meg with whom James’s fling actually took place.

What I particularly liked about Coleman’s script was that it gave the characters a voice by allowing them to directly address the audience and give their take on how they were feeling at different points of the play.

Ellul’s James also gave his version of events, which tended to soften the audience just the tiniest bit. He had the few men present vigorously nodding their heads when women are described as being unfathomable and rather confusing to understand: something that the director transformed as being the better part of their humanity – a multifaceted approach to life and the ability to see beyond the events of the moment is what allows Meg to finally take a final decision.

A pleasant night out and guaranteed feel-good factor.

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