Entertainment :: Theatre


Mary’s Wedding
by Christopher Soden
EDGE Contributor
Tuesday Jul 15, 2008

Julie Reinagel (Mary) and Matt Savins (Charlie) in "Mary’s Wedding."
Julie Reinagel (Mary) and Matt Savins (Charlie) in "Mary’s Wedding."    (Source:Bill Ellison)
Stephen Masicotte’s Mary’s Wedding is a lyrical, avid, and deeply moving narrative of a young man (Charlie) and woman (Mary) who meet by chance, swiftly fall in love, and endure the painful issues that arise when Charlie goes off to war in the 1920’s. As we might expect, Charlie is stirred by a sense of patriotism and valiance while Mary begins to grasp that even the most altruistic of wars can only end in Pyrrhic victory.

"Mary’s Wedding" may or may not be a condemnation of war itself, but it certainly strips away any delusions of glory in battle. Ironically the play emerges from the heightened, spectacular realms of poetry and dreams : the echoing of phrase and image, the slant logic that often seems more "true" than verisimilitude. But is just as quick to reveal that while the worlds of the fantastic and actual can often intersect, they must sometimes diverge. How the fanciful and nightmarish aspects of subsisting in the world can collide, or subtly seep into one another.

At the risk of generalizing, Rover Dramawerks seems (more often than not) to excel at excavating these lesser-known jewels where romance and catastrophe coalesce into resonant, understated reveries on devotion and spiritual survival. Plays like "Two Rooms," "An Infinite Ache," "Private Eyes" share this premise, and director Lisa Devine continues her masterful exploration of love in "Mary’s Wedding," taking what might have been swallowed up by schmaltz, and turning it into a hypnotic, engulfing experience: filled with fear, grief, foreboding and buoyancy. Devine’s confident, balanced, harmonious touch, her ear for the rhythms of dialogue, give this production its implacable bearing.

Needless to say, when a play runs 90 minutes with only two actors to hold our attention, casting is paramount. Julie Reinagel (Mary) and Matt Savins (Charlie) have the unenviable task of being onstage the entire time and pouring themselves energetically into these roles that are both physically and emotionally demanding. Whether they are riding a gatepost like a horse or hunkering down in foxholes they are adept and focused. Reinagel plays the additional role of Flowers, a congenial, paternal sergeant who looks after Charlie while he’s away from home. This somewhat unusual choice still reflects the dream logic of the play, in a sense Flowers is Mary’s surrogate while Charlie is away from home, providing him with guidance whether he is dodging bullets or writing to his fiancée.

Reinagel and Savins both have the unabashed, genuine air of ingénues who have not yet succumbed to the toxins of betrayal or disappointment. They seem to authentically care about the world around them and each other, their hearts still open to the overwhelming and miraculous. Reinagel is poised and plausible as the British immigrant who can conquer Charlie with a careless, sincere smile. Ms. Reinagel is treading dangerous waters here, as tone is everything, and the wrong spin can turn, say, Desdemona into Suzy Creamcheese. Reinagel is canny and radiant, engaging and melting our hearts. Savins is earnest and achingly brave as Charlie. He exhibits range, skill and tenderness, drawing us into the lather of Charlie’s passions, from dread to rapture to despair.

The Lighting (Dawn Wittke King) Sound (Jason Rice) Scenic (Clint Alan Ray) and Costume (Carol M. Rice) Design were all very impressive, integrating seamlessly and complementing this somber, beautiful piece. Whether we are transported inside a barn to escape a rainstorm, an afternoon tea or the deck of a ship in the first ragged hours of morning, the technical expertise (along with the work of Devine, Savins and Reinagel, of course) of the crew made it happen with finesse.


Rover Dramawerks presents Mary’s Wedding, playing through August 2nd at Cox Building Playhouse in Plano, Texas. For more details, visit their website.


Christopher Soden received his MFA in Poetry from Vermont College in 2005. He is a teacher, lecturer, actor, performer and playwright. In addition he writes film, theatre and literary critique. In his spare time he likes to read, cook, dine, do crossword puzzles, chill and nap.


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