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Theatre Mon Jan 18 2010

Review: Mary's Wedding w/ Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

RTE MarysWedding_01.jpg
Mary's Wedding is the first play in Rivendell Theatre Ensemble's 2010 season, a yearlong exploration of war as it is seen through the eyes of a woman. Unfortunately, Mary's Wedding is less a thoughtful exploration of war than a mildly effective, overly familiar period romance. The year is 1914, the country is Canada, and we find ourselves in a barn as British immigrant Mary forms a hesitant connection with "dirty farm boy" Charlie. As often happens in stories like these, Mary's mother doesn't approve...that is, until Charlie volunteers for the Canadian Calvary. Time becomes fluid in Stephen Massicotte's script as we drift back and forth from their early days to the trenches and their written correspondence. It's a clever convention that should probably feel fresher than it does here.

Not to say Rivendell's production doesn't have its moments. The set is simple and sufficient, neatly divided between the barn and the trenches, offering the actors plenty of space to play. Cassandra Bissel is warm and likeable as Mary, drawing an extra amount of pathos through her dual role as Sergeant Flowerdew, Charlie's commanding officer. Shane Kenyon's Charlie, on the other hand, is too much of a fragile creature, so cute and good-natured that he comes off as more of a stuffed animal than a flesh and blood person. The production does a fine job of highlighting the horrors of war, but since it all goes to serve their doomed romance it offers little modern resonance. It's sad, sure, but we get it, which gets at what really bothered me about Mary's Wedding: It all just feels so familiar. You'll be moved, but not too moved. You'll laugh, but not very hard. While pretty and well-intentioned, it's exactly the sort of play your jaded theatre-hating friend expect it to be. That's not a bad thing, of course, but is it your thing?

Mary's Wedding runs through February 20 at the Raven Theatre's West Stage (6157 N. Clark St). Tickets are $22 and may be purchased online or by calling 773-334-7728. Photo by Mark Campbell.

 
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