Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: The Wedding Consultant

Eric Singel's comic solo show about gay marriage offers colorful characters, says Wendy Rosenfield -- and the warning to be careful what you wish for.

Review: The Wedding Consultant

By Wendy Rosenfield

This year marks the second Fringe Festival appearance for Eric Singel’s The Wedding Consultant. Singel’s comic solo show visits same-sex marriage and the notion that “one wedding is just like another.” Since the piece premiered in 2007, the number of states recognizing gay marriage went from one to six, and no doubt the number of wedding planners surely surged accordingly.

However, the production, directed with an eye for forward movement by Jose Aviles, is less about Singel’s drag character Iris Holcombe, a down-to-business party planner with innumerable personal prejudices, than about the impending moment when a platter of assorted clashing personalities gets served up at the church.

Those personalities--party boy groom Lance, classy groom Leslie, nice-guy best man Mike, Leslie’s lesbian mom Rhonda, and Lance’s Texan mom Bobbi Sue (who thinks her son’s soon-to-be-bride Leslie must be a real catch)--all take turns offering up slices of their lives.  

Just as at any get-together, some conversation time is better spent than others. Watching Singel’s Lance pretend to be wasted is about as interesting as watching anyone pretend to be wasted. It’s only after 10 minutes of slurring and pill-popping, when he backbites the very friends who planned his bachelor party, that we gain insight into his character.

But Mike, a third-generation cop and first-generation gay cop, anchors the production with a surprising (and I’ll admit it, surprisingly butch) depth. The others? Well, they’re colorful, and Singel, while celebrating marriage equality, adds another maxim to Holcombe’s assessment of nuptial sameness: Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

$20, Sept. 9, 10, 14-18 at 8PM, Sept. 11, 18, at 2PM, Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 3, 825 Walnut St.

About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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