Without a doubt, it’s the zingers that pepper the play like a round of firecracker poppers that make this a memorable laugh-out-loud production from start to finish.
Regrets Only opens the world up to a horrific dystopia, a world where bride is pitted against dressmaker, lawyer against pal, mother of the bride against BFF, and everything is in turmoil as the gay workers of the world go on strike. Written by Paul Rudnick and directed by Jerry Williams, the play gallops through two acts with wit and barbs a-plenty.
Everything starts out simply enough. The delightful(-ly gay) dress designer Hank Hadley (Joe Pabst) is chatting with his longtime friend Tibby McCullough (Melissa Johnston) about the passing of Hank’s partner some time ago. Still, as sad as the subject is, the conversation has a the-show-must-go-on type of air. All seems well, until Tibby’s adult daughter Spencer (Liz Blake White) appears, announcing to the world that she’s engaaaaaaaged, dazzling her parents with her sparkly ring, and imploring her dear darling Hank Hadley to make her dream dress. Hoorah all around! That is until…
Mr. Jack McCullough (Michael Hawke) drops the bomb that he got a call from the President, who wants some help drafting legislature about the Defense of Marriage Act, and since Spencer is a lawyer too, she can help her dad with this historic work! Hoorah all around….not so much. Hank wilts a little, though still trying to put on a happy face for Spencer, but things are tense, and decisions have to be made, career opportunities taken by the horns. This brings the play to its themes: what are our responsibilities–if any–regarding other people’s marriages? Do we owe support, or is all fair in friendship versus career?
It’s annoying to watch Spencer so blithely make statements about the wonder of marriage, then quickly juxtapose them with an interrogation of the man she’s known her whole life, flipping away the status of his relationship with a metaphorical wave of her hand. To watch Jack and Tibby war in their own marriage is unpleasant too, harder still to watch is Tibby, torn between her friend and her husband. What should be a joyful occasion turns into a battle. But everything could be okay in the end, right? We could all just go and dance the night away and drink and feel better, couldn’t we? Tibby is torn at the end of the night, but hopeful, if weary. But Hank provides the answer: No, we can’t. His hurt about the evening of DOMA is palpable.
When Spencer’s wedding starts going horribly wrong, it seems something afoul is afoot. There’s no cake-baker, no flower arranger, no dressmaker. It’s barbaric, awful, and very much the work of somebody sinister, that’s for sure. Will the culprit be discovered? Will Spencer’s wedding be ruined? Will Hank and Tibby remain friends?
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The play does have a certain agenda about the nature of marriage equality and friendship, but in and of itself, that might only make the play good. But without a doubt, it’s the zingers that pepper the play like a round of firecracker poppers that make this a memorable laugh-out-loud production from start to finish. The message that the play is trying to convey regarding the nature of friendship and equal marriage rights is commendable if a little wacky at times, but the jokes are what make it a truly good show. They never stop! You think oh, that was a good zing–but before you can even finish the word, there’s another zinger, and another. And they’re funny, not little ha-ha’s each time, but a lot of good solid chortlers and guffawers. The play is a pretty standard length, but it felt like no time had passed at all because it ran both swiftly and hilariously (which, incidentally, is just like giraffes run–fun fact!).
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Why you should see this play
You like a good hearty evening of laughs with a zillion zingers thrown in. AKA, you like to have a good time.
Why you should stay home
You don’t like laughter.
Photo by Richmond Triangle Players