Secret Bridesmaids’ Business

‘Secret Bridesmaids’ Business’ is a hilarious play written in 1992 by Australian actor / playwright Elizabeth Coleman, when it became the most popular play of the year. Elizabeth has allowed Michelle the director to use local place names in the production, so when coupled with the never aging topic of ‘love and marriage’, helps keep the play as fresh today as ever.

This fun show for adults can be seen at the Roleystone Hall – not the Theatre – at 44 Jarrah Road (on the corner of Wygonda Road) in Roleystone, a few streets behind the well-loved theatre which is soon to rise again from the dead. The two-and a-half hour performances are presented with cabaret-style seating and shows begin at 7.30 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings until 19th October. There is one matinée on Sunday 13th at 2.00 pm.

A large open stage with full lighting grid has been constructed temporarily in the hall. With black drapes at each side of the apron and no proscenium arch this was quite a task for production manager Alan Gill’s team. The very tasteful set design by Daniel Ramsell and Stephen Carr made one quickly forget the theatre’s shortcomings.

The Scene: The night before Meg’s wedding in a stylish hotel room in Perth CBD.

The Set: The large hotel room had café-au-lait coloured walls with white woodwork. There were five white, panelled doors leading to bathroom, cupboard and adjoining room. There is a king-sized bed with beautiful pale blue Manchester and brass lamps on the bedside lockers. In the corner of the room was a coffee area and fridge. To the side of the stage was a white melamine table and four chairs, finally a foldaway bed and a grey armchair.

The set construction was by the designers with Peter Carr, Rod Padgett, Callum Presbury and Alan Gill.

The sound and lighting were operated by Callum Presbury and Michelle Juschke. Their use of fading to deep blue for night-time is always better than dim white light. During the play, each actor came to the front of the stage in turn and a spotlight picked them out whilst they explained and justified their thoughts.

Stage manager Kathryn Stark was well organised.

                It is late evening in the bride-to-be, Meg’s (Elizabeth Elliott) hotel room. Meg’s mother Colleen (Jay Shaw) is supervising the folding of the place-cards for the reception tables; the slightly frumpy, staid matron of honour Angela (Bree Hartley) is helping her. Middle-aged Angie is quiet but most reliable. Meg’s darling groom-to-be, James (Sam Barnett) is starting have prenuptial nerves.

                When the topic of ribbons and bows for the end of the pews is raised, Colleen is horrified at the choice of ribbon. Much too wide! As Meg tries to pacify her Mum, the second, younger bridesmaid Lucy (Jade Azor) arrives; she is giggly and brightens up the proceedings.

                The overanxious and controlling Mum goes to bed and the girls have some fun time. Starting with flagons of bubbly and a game of spin the bottle. Soon everyone gets wasted and goes to bed, but in the morning, it becomes obvious that Lucy is not fit to be a bridesmaid and the search starts to find someone who will fit into her dress. A friend (Bri Dunn) comes to the rescue.

The costumes were designed by Michelle Ezzy, Penny Ramsell and the cast, ranging from a magnificent ivory wedding dress, the colourful silk dressing gowns, to the daring lace basques and knickers of the bridal party. The mother wore the standard ‘uniform’ of all mothers of the bride – a smart two piece, in post-menopausal blue.

A professional teacher of acting, vocals and choreography at the prestigious John Curtin College, Michelle Ezzy is also a theatrical orchestra musician. After many musicals Michelle is now directing her first straight play. With her talented assistant director, Alan Gill, they had a wonderful script to work with, but even so, they found plenty more hidden double-entendres and one liners. With such a fabulous comedy, good clear diction is essential on such an open stage, thankfully each and every actor had especially good comedic delivery. The whole cast were in top form and with great rapport. The actors’ body language was so good that you could see what they are building up to, so often the laughs started before a word was spoken. There was even an abusive (but fun) comment from an audience member who was frustrated by the attitude of an actor’s character.

There were genuine tears and elation as moods changed. A slightly longer show than usual, but the pace was cracking, the storyline stayed interesting and had an ending as tense as a thriller.

A good production at every level, with a couple of laughs every minute. SUPERB TEAM.