FIVE WOMEN WEARING THE SAME DRESS, Wing & Groove Theatre. Big weddings are stressful–especially when the families are wealthy and most especially in the south, where ladies say “I think I need to have a nervous breakdown” as casually as if it were a manicure. But the reason that the bridesmaids in this play by American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball have hunkered down in the bride’s sister’s bedroom is that all of them have issues with the rite’s key players–in particular the handsome Don Juan who figures prominently in their memories. The result is much squabbling, disparaging, swapping of intimacies, kicking off of satin pumps, and flouncing of seven-yard skirts while the reception proceeds on the lawn below. And that’s before the caterers open the bar.

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress could easily be reduced to a catalog of feminist complaints from Ball’s five-woman bomber squadron: the cynical ex-nympho, the straitlaced fundamentalist, the self-abasing romantic, the slew-footed lesbian, and the rebellious sibling whose anger runs deeper than simple sisterly envy. But director Rae Bucher’s flawless ensemble never allow their concentration to waver, never lapse from the dynamic of the moment, finding grace notes to soften the text’s mood swings and glowing with so much warmth, humanity, and good humor that despite the impaired air-conditioning at the preview performance I attended we enjoyed every minute of their company.

–Mary Shen Barnidge