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Friday April 23rd

Canvas

PlayMaker's "Mary's Wedding" draws big tears and applause

PlayMaker's "Mary's Wedding"

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Kenan Theatre

5 Stars

PRC’s opening night production of "Mary’s Wedding" moved the audience from laughter to tears to a standing ovation as the actors simultaneously delighted and pulled heavily at their heartstrings.

"Mary’s Wedding" depicts a dream titular Mary has on the eve of her wedding that relives her meeting and subsequent romance with Charlie, her first love. Their story is told through recollections of their time spent together as well as letters Charlie sends Mary from the front lines of World War I. Certain aspects of the dream play out differently than the real life events did, but in the end, Charlie dies in war and Mary awaits her wedding to another man the following morning.

To say there was not a single dry eye in the entire theater by the dream’s end is no exaggeration — every audience member, females and males alike, not only became teary eyed but actively wept as the show’s final tragic moments came to a close. One male patron was overheard saying, “I have never cried before” as guests filed out of the theater, smiling as they continued to sniffle and wipe their tears.

The profound sadness and compelling nature of this production would not have been possible without the genuine interactions and raw portrayal of emotions by the actors. Throughout the production, Mary (Carey Cox) and Charlie (Myles Bullock) were spot on with their shy, flirtatious, and even more solemn interactions, and the audience felt as though they were witnessing a real newly-in-love couple flirt, banter and fight right before their eyes. It was this genuine, raw, realistic, organic quality that the actors lent to their relationship that caused the audience to believe in it and react as strongly as they did. It was Mary’s tear-filled eyes and red nose as she explained the event and aftermath of Charlie’s death that helped move the entire theater to feel the same as she. An entire audience cannot be moved to tears without the help of powerful, engaging and dedicated actors.

Despite the play’s morose end, it offered many lighthearted and humorous moments as the earlier parts of the story unfolded. Mary and Charlie’s playful back-and-forth constantly left the audience chuckling, and their references to her mother were another consistent point of humor. One especially humorous moment was when Mary affectionately fixed Charlie’s hair; as she touched him, his umbrella popped out from a very cleverly placed location. This seemingly innocent scene had the audience roaring at its unexpectedness as well as Charlie’s bashful reaction to it.

The actors’ performances were truly allowed to pop against the simple yet dynamic set design. Wooden boards carved out a rugged semi-circle on the backdrop, which switched from a pale blue sky over the meadow to falling orange bombshells on the front lines in Europe depending on what the scene required at the moment. The versatility afforded by this lit backdrop allowed for instant changes in the dream world’s setting, such as the seamless transition from the trenches to a tea party. It complemented the actors’ narrations while aiding the reality of the story they told.

Overall, despite the approximately twenty minutes of nonstop weeping and sniffling, it was evident from the audience’s teary-eyed smiles and conversations as they left that they truly enjoyed the experience Mary’s Wedding provided. Thanks to the work of two extremely talented actors an entire theater, literally, was moved to tears by the production, and this allowed it to transcend its status of a play to become, rather, an experience.

arts@dailytarheel.com

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