I Came to Your Wedding
"I Came to Your Wedding," at Hale Center Theater Orem
by Eric D. Snider
Published on May 25, 2001
Don't expect Shakespeare when you see a Ruth Hale play at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. But "I Came to Your Wedding," running through June 11, is subpar even by the usual standards, offering only a few scattered laughs and amusing characters amidst a sea of trite, labored comedic situations.
The time is 1984 (and kudos, by the way, to the costume and hair departments for some truly outstanding '80s garb). Darren Call (Amanda Webb), a pretty but wishy-washy girl, is about to marry wealthy twit Ellis McIntyre (Matt Kohl), much to the dismay of boy-next-door Johnny (Andrew Allman), whom she left at the altar less than a month ago.
Darren's mother, Muriel (Mary Kay Peirce; double-cast with Debbie Ellis), and Muriel's old-maid sister Dorothy (Debbie Lloyd) aren't happy about it, either. Ellis' family is demanding and snooty, particularly Ellis' drab uncle Anthony (Jon Hale; double-cast with Cody Hale), whom sentient beings will realize the moment he walks onstage that is destined to hook up with Dorothy.
To get revenge, Dorothy invites her backwoods Oklahoma relatives to the wedding, hoping to embarrass the McIntyres. (How this will benefit her is not clear.) The bumptious moonshiners show up and make a lot of noise and run around with names like "Florabelle" and "Fairycomb," and sure enough, folks get embarrassed.
Ellis is a persnickety, spiteful character from the get-go, yelling at Darren for being late and reproving her for going around barefoot. They clearly don't even like each other, while Darren and Johnny are obviously still in love. If you think for a minute that Darren and Ellis will actually get married, you deserve this play. It's painfully obvious they won't, but the play keeps pretending they will, hoping we'll go along with it and be surprised when she wises up later.
The vanilla-bland script is a mess, technically speaking, with events occurring merely because the author wanted them to, and against all logic. Johnny and Darren get lost despite having lived in the town all their lives; this is weakly blamed on Darren's "bad sense of direction," with a subsequent throw-away implication that Johnny did it on purpose. Someone gets tied up in his garage and then -- without getting himself untied -- hops all the way to the Calls' house. A minister starts to perform the wedding in the living room even though hundreds of guests are milling around in the backyard. Why? Because the play has to have the wedding, but the play doesn't allow for a set change.
The best character in the play is Wallace, a teen-ager in love with Darren's sister Susan (Brooke Hess). Wallace is played by Michael Walker, who pulls off the difficult feat of being nerdy but not annoying. (Trust me, I've been working on this all my life.) His timing is great, pulling laughs out of situations that could easily have fallen flat.
Debbie Lloyd and Mary Kay Peirce are believable as Darren's mother and aunt, functioning as half of "The Golden Girls" without as much bitterness. Many of their lines are no better than your average low-level sitcom, but they deliver them convincingly.
Amanda Webb and Andrew Allman make a fine pair as Darren and Johnny, too. They have charisma and personality -- but, again, hardly a funny line between them.
No, the acting is not the problem here, by and large. It's the rickety, uncreative script -- seemingly a rewrite of every other Ruth Hale script -- that makes the show a weak, ineffective experience.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
This work may not be transmitted via the Internet, nor reproduced in any other way, without written consent from Eric D. Snider.