After a successful off-Broadway run in New York, Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette comes to Broadway— 4147 North Broadway in Chicago—for its Midwest premiere at Profiles Theatre (www.profilestheatre.org).
Centering around a few self-centered women in their late 20s, the material is refreshingly accessible to audiences who may otherwise prefer TV to theater. But unlike television, this live production allows viewers to experience the story in a sensual way through sound, smell and an impressive set designed by Scott Davis.
Under the guidance of director Darrell W. Cox, the theater’s associate artistic director, the cast is equally visceral. Ensemble member Eric Burgher is a standout with his extremely empathetic and believable portrayal of a pothead wallpaper hanger while Linda Augusta Orr, Hillary Marren, and Amanda Powell seamlessly balance comedy and drama with excellent performances that are bold and intimate.
Though ready, willing and able to give their all, Rakisha Pollard and Adam Soule are limited due to roles that are not fully realized in the writing of this installment of Headland’s Seven Deadly Plays series. Following Cinephilia which focuses on lust; Assistance on greed; Surfer Girl on sloth; Reverb on wrath; and The Accidental Blonde on envy, Bachelorette deals with gluttony as seen in the ways its unhappy characters try and ease their pain with sex, drugs, alcohol, and food.
That may sound like a drag, but Bachelorette is very funny thanks to its wonderfully wicked and witty dialogue. Despite a few antiquated and unconvincing lines that refer to Sex and the City, Harry Truman, and a casserole, the conversations are remarkably real and blunt—as witnessed in a discussion about the strategy of giving head in a long-term relationship. On a scale from 1 to 10, the characters agree it’s never wise to start off at a 10 because you have nowhere to go from there.
Unfortunately, Headland does not apply the same strategy to her writing. The play starts at a 10, but begins to go down hill as the drama in the second act goes on too long to sustain tension and the third act unravels with loose ends that are abruptly cut. Ideally, a play leaves the audience wanting more because it’s so good, not because they are missing a satisfying ending. Unfortunately, the latter is the case with Bachelorette.
But—like oral sex—even if it’s not a 10, it still is enjoyable. And Bachelorette is enjoyable.