Bachelorette parties aren't just for getting hammered and gorging on beefcake. They're a perfect place for anxiety and existential dread to gather heavy and thick before raining on the bride's parade. Such a night on the town turned dark night of the soul is at the heart of Adam Bock's The Drunken City, presented by THEATREdART and opening Friday at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts' David H. Lord Theater.
Marnie (Jessica Weaver), Melissa (Taffida Urban) and Linda (Kala Roquemore) are three brides-to-be celebrating Marnie's bachelorette party and drinking their way through a sleepless city. Then they meet the handsome and recently jilted Frank (Oscar Robinson) and his friend Eddie (Erick Groskopf). Marnie is shaken and stirred, then suddenly forced to face drunken truths she'd rather not acknowledge. When Melissa and Linda pull in their friend Bob (Emory John Collinson) to get her back on the straight path, the booze brings out yet more unwanted honesty.
"[Bock] takes the kind of people you see hanging out of cars downtown on Tejon and really makes them human," says Roquemore, who's also producing the Canadian-born playwright's 2008 work. She adds that one of the biggest challenges has been getting the layered, true-to-conversation rhythm of Bock's dialogue; the text of the play brings a subtle poetic cadence to the characters' drunken chatter, she says.
"With any kind of conversational reality, there's a musical fluidity to it," Weaver notes. "[Director Ariel Robinson] ... has composed the scenes like you would music."
Robinson says that she and the cast have worked hard to make the city come off like a living, breathing thing; Roquemore likens it to a monster eating the six characters. To that end, the set features a moving sidewalk that breathes and shakes during parts of the play.
Furthering Drunken City's unusual formatting, Robinson says, "Bock used some elements that reference Shakespeare, but in a modern way, such as an unusual introduction in which the characters talk directly to the audience."
Adds Weaver, "I think it's very funny because it doesn't try to be funny. Adam Bock writes in a way that's very truthful to the situation. It's so funny because it's so honest and so true, and you can just relate to it ... it's drunken honesty. Who hasn't had a few drinks and then the truth comes falling out?"