Plano — One door closes, another door opens, according to the popular adage urging us to get on with it when we lose a job or whatever. In British farce, however, doors are not simply entrances and exits, but practically characters. Doors don’t just open and close at the end and beginning; they creak, and squeak open very slowly—or perhaps are thrown wide suddenly, catching some poor bastard by surprise. A door is pulled discreetly closed when a guilty bridegroom is sneaking out of the bedroom, or is slammed with resounding anger when an outraged matron stomps off in a huff. “Why not take a taxi?” someone asks.
Remember, we’re talking punny-funny British comedy.
Robin Hawdon’s Perfect Wedding, onstage at Theatre Britain in Plano, is designed to invoke all sorts of door activity. Haddon, whose hits include The Mating Game and Don’t Dress for Dinner, clearly knows his way around a bedroom farce. A groggy young bridegroom named Bill (Bryan Brooks) wakes up on his wedding morning in the hotel’s bridal suite, (a chic set with three sturdy doors designed by Darryl P. Clement) with a naked girl he doesn’t recognize. Shocked and hung over, Bill tumbles out of bed in a fog, grabbing his pants, and beseeching this shapely young woman named Judy (Jamila Marie) to get in the bathroom, get her clothes on and get out.
Bill’s fiancé Rachel (Elizabeth McWhorter) is about to arrive to ready herself for the perfect wedding she’s planned. Bill has to act fast to cover whatever infidelity he may have committed following his drunken stag party. Desperate for help, Bill tells his hapless best man Tom (Michael Salimitari) about the girl in the bathroom, and before you can say “bloody awful timing,” the feisty hotel maid (Jennifer Stoneking) shows up, and gets sucked into the deceptive twists of the plot—and the turns of the doorknobs, of course.
Director Sue Birch, the theater’s artistic director, keeps her nimble cast moving with the speed required for absurd coincidence and well-mannered humiliation, through this mazy plot. Love walks in, that’s true—but who’s love is she? And what is she doing in that outfit? Does the bride’s chatty, hot pink-clad mother (Dana Harrison) have a clue? Everybody looks sharp. Shanna Gobin has the men costumed in handsome morning coats, and the elegant satin wedding gown does double duty, at least.
Brooks’ Bill is a charmingly befuddled young groom, a little like Hugh Laurie’s Bertie Wooster in the TV series of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster. He’s flustered by female flattery, and so frightened of being caught that he literally hides beneath a skirt before crawling off behind a chaise lounge. Stern-jawed, redheaded McWhorter is the calm bride-to-be at the center of this tempest of flimsy fibs, wide-eyed and totally trusting of her bumbling fiancé.
Salimitari is an awfully handsome and clever best man, so loyal and to his friend and quick on the comeback when a hall door opens and in walks still another fiancé. Salimtari’s Tom rises, red in the face, to the occasion. When the twisting plot heads for a final surprise curve, he hangs with the turn. Marie, a brown-eyed beauty whose eyes flash both cool fury and romantic warmth, is spirited as the groom’s surprise bunkmate.
In or out of her frilly apron, Stoneking’s down-to-earth and inquisitive chambermaid is a hoot. Popping in and out of the proceedings, up for anything and wielding a toilet brush as a weapon, she does her comic best to set these bed-hopping “rabbits” straight. But then, the course of true love will never run smooth in a British farce. How could it, with all those bloody doors to deal with?
All’s well that ends with a smile, and the energetic cast of this Perfect Wedding muddle through with laughs and grins to spare.