It’s about time that there seems to be a trend of comedic movies, tv and other entertainment that focus on groups of strong women. Whether that be the genius of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Leslie Jones on SNL, Kristen Wiig and the ladies behind Bridesmaids, heck Melissa McCarthy is a comedy trend in her own right! This show is a perfect example of that. Wild Weekend, produced by Smartmouth Comedy Co. gives us girlfriends growing up together, growing apart but finding they still have common ground, willing to love and support one another throughout the trials of work, relationships, family and aging.
I definitely can relate to this.
In fact, gearing up to watch the show it was clear who the audience/demographic was. I counted 20 women ages 25-45 and 2 (count them), 2 supportive men. Transforming the black box stage of Phoenix Theatre into a sad sad state of affairs, same Chopin song Over and over, drinking booze straight from the bottle and eating cold pizza we find out that our protagonist has been left at the proverbial altar for another arbor in South America. I’m not going to going to give away the details, see the show and you’ll get the joke.
There’s not much new about this narrative. Girl gets left by boy. Girl’s best friends come, find out what happens, and attempt to cheer her up. There are physical gags, silly one-liners, and the “romcom” female stereotypes. We are introduced to the obnoxious soccer mom, the brassy workaholic, the flight attendant who parties like she’s still in college, the obligatory gay bff to name a few. Although it’s cute, it’s by no means unique. In fact, the first scene leans toward downright “schmacty,” the actors choosing to play the jokes for the laugh instead of just letting the language and the ridiculousness of the situation stand on its own!
More cinematic in style, I give Smartmouth credit for creative and quick scene changes. Transitioning Scene Two into a seven-seat mom van, complete with epic bucket seats, there is a sequence about songs on free Sirius radio that is extremely well played and constructed! Act Two puts them with a flat tire in the middle of a national forest and the trees keep entering the stage creating more and more of a sense of claustrophobia and being lost.
In general, the Second Act is so much more fun! As the characters get drunker and drunker, ironically the comedy becomes faster and smoother. It’s as if the actors are finally settling in and enjoying themselves, letting the pace of the comedy rule. In one funny scene, the lead character Mandy (Catherine Hansen), has a physical confrontation with a tree that is laugh out loud funny. Another favorite is the character of BECKY (Stephanie Stine, a dead ringer for the squacky Jenny Slate), in almost an homage to Mean Girls,who has incredible ESP- directly related to (spoiler alert) penis size.
There are organic penis suckers, a bloody nose stuffed with a tampon, mom purse filled with booze and bags of Cheerios...and as the gals warm up the relationships really start to gel, I wanted to be a part of their adorable neurosis!
While not the most profound thing I’ve ever seen, I applaud Smartmouth for bringing, and continuing to bring women to the forefront of their comedy. With strong female leads, these passionate, intellectual and goofy gals are working through this crazy thing called life...but not without their besties by their sides!
Playwright Kelliann Kary (also playing the super mom AMBER) articulates in the program notes “this play is a love letter to my girlfriends; each character was inspired by different women in my life from grade school years...all the way up to my best friend who designed the program...This play is intended to capture the love that we’ve shared.” In a similar vein, Director, Jenna Pulkrabek, in the curtain speech, asked us to think of our own friends and recognize a little bit of ourselves as we watched and enjoyed the play. If it was any indication by a standing ovation at the end of the night, a lot of the audience could identify with these characters. Ultimately isn’t that why we make plays...so that our audience can identify a little piece of themselves in what we’re offering? Allow some empathy? And ultimately if they leave with a smile on their face, feeling a little bit closer to someone they love...that job is done. Smartmouth has one last weekend of performances. If you’re looking for some light goofy fun, and maybe even a bra in your freezer, bring your own besties for a girl’s night out!