Secret Bridesmaids’ Business – The Review

Secret Bridesmaids Business by Elizabeth Coleman

Kapiti Playhouse 29 July 2015

Reviewed by Andrew London

The modern wedding in all its glamour, pageantry, tradition, absurdity and contradiction is currently being examined under the spotlight at the Kapiti Playhouse in Australian playwright Elizabeth Coleman’s delightful and acerbic play ‘Secret Bridesmaids’ Business’.

The main character Meg, who has gathered her bridesmaids and mother together in a hotel room for a last night of girlie hijinks, displays all the schizophrenic traits of the modern bride. On the one hand she’s a cynical matter-of-fact modern career woman who has built up a successful public relations business, but on the other she still buys into the childhood mythology of the Cinderella wedding as the fulfillment of her ultimate fantasy – aided and abetted by her doting, dotty and slightly neurotic mother Colleen.

The exchanges between Rebecca Fraser as Meg, and Calle Brooks as her mother are the source of much humour and a little sensitivity – both capturing the essence of their characters with convincing ease. Rebecca’s Meg is confident and businesslike – even a little arrogant, which adds to the drama when things start to go pear-shaped.

Teresa Sullivan shines as bridesmaid Lucy – admittedly having already won the ‘who gets all the best lines’ lottery – and consequently reveling in her role as the cynical worldly-wise party girl. Natalie Taiaki maintains a straighter line as befits the more conservative character of bridesmaid Angela, but nevertheless delivers plenty of passion as she and Lucy debate their unfolding shared moral dilemma.

Dafnis Vargas as the groom James is given a one-dimensional character and plays the slightly scoundrelly stereotype with relish – helped greatly by his uncanny resemblance to Charlie Sheen. Nikki McKelvie may well have the most enviable role in the show – she can put her feet up in the first half but comes off the bench in the second to play stand-in bridesmaid Naomi, admirably portraying her ‘possum-in-the-headlights’ restrained panic with obvious enthusiasm.

Secret Bridesmaids’ Business is a fast-paced intelligent satire with plenty of humour to entertain, but plenty of pathos to elicit empathy. Most of us will see something of ourselves in this show, or at least a reflection of some of our society’s more absurd obsessions.