Mary’s Wedding, on stage now at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, is a quiet play about falling in love, the horrors of war and the place where those two elements sometimes meet. Set in the Canadian frontier at the start of WWI we meet Mary on the eve of her wedding as she dreams of her first love, Charlie. The two cross paths by chance when a thunderstorm forces them to seek shelter in a nearby barn. Soon their sweet courtship is interrupted by the harsh realities of trench warfare.
As always, director James Still brought his own unique charm to the show. He decided to add a live cellist on stage throughout the performance. The talented musician is tucked away in an alcove ten-feet above the stage, but his presence is known every time he gently slides his bow across his strings. The sweet notes heighten each moment of exhilaration or pain and they add a palpable elegance to the production.
Wearing a simple white shift Gwendolyn Whiteside plays Mary with unbridled enthusiasm. In some scene she also plays Charlie’s hardboiled sergeant. Zach Kenney as Charlie is all wide-eyed earnestness in suspenders. His gentleness makes you fall in love with him alongside Mary as he tries to remember the lines from Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade” in the midst of the storm. Each character reveals a vulnerable tenderness at just the right moments and their chemistry is what makes the story so beautiful.
The set portrays Mary’s dream world and so it fittingly has an ethereal atmosphere. The floor and back wall are a sublime shade of blue and a long translucent swatch drapes one side of the stage. Yellowed pages litter the set, each covered in tight scrawls and representing the many letters between the two pining lovers.
By setting the show firmly within Mary’s dream we can see bits and pieces of what happen when they are both together and alone. There’s no clear timeline that must be followed and normal staging obstacles, like riding a horse, can be dealt with in a whimsical way. In a dream world a chair or a fence can become a galloping steed and an umbrella stands in for a rifle.
This show is a gem. It balances the IRT’s signature drama with excellent characters. There will be dozens of holidays on stages throughout the city soon, but before the fake snow covers every stage, make time to see Mary’s Wedding.
Don't Miss the Show
Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Dec. 4 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.
Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $34 with discounts available for students and seniors.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.
Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre