Review: ‘Maids of Honor’

Joan Casademont's journey through two days in the life and times of the three dysfunctional Bowlin sisters preemed in New York in 1990, and has since been optioned for the bigscreen by Warner Bros.

Joan Casademont’s journey through two days in the life and times of the three dysfunctional Bowlin sisters preemed in New York in 1990, and has since been optioned for the bigscreen by Warner Bros. Burdened with the angst of Beth Henley’s “Crimes of the Heart” with none of the former’s zany originality, this ponderous, self-indulgent word fest wallows in the trials and tribulations of three boring adult siblings whose problems don’t transcend their family kitchen (nicely wrought by Burris Jackes). Helmer Ben Livingston doesn’t elicit a credible performance out of any of these ladies, who actually appear uncomfortable spouting Casademont’s awkward dialogue.

Set in the Bowlins’ Massachusetts North Shore home, the action centers on the wedding-eve catharsis of bride-to-be Monica (Julie Lancaster), a minor celebrity talkshow host who has just been told that her investment tycoon fiance, Chuck, is a crook. Little sister Izzy (Andrea Marcellus), a ragingly insecure newspaper editorial assistant, has been helping investigative reporter Joel Silverman (Joe Anthony) get the goods on Monica’s intended and the story is about to break.

Meanwhile, woebegone sister Annie (Courtney Gebhart) is anguishing over whether to let former beau Harry Hobson (Brendan O’Neill) back into her life. Hobson, who happens to be catering Monica’s nuptials, was cast aside years earlier after a youthful indiscretion. Hovering in the wings is Monica’s recently deposed whimpering lover Roger Dowling (Blake Boyd), who has rushed into town to reclaim her.

Adding to this stewing pot of misery and acrimony is Monica’s monumentally materialistic childhood friend Pat Weinhardt (Dori Rosenthal), who keeps calculating what Chuck’s net worth will be after indictment.

By far, the most interesting character in this familial mess is the Bowlin sisters’ much-referred-to long-dead abusive father who made them the emotionally misshapen creatures they are today. He is a constant resource for each of the sisters to justify their individual failures. If dad, a complex individual who carried around a ton of guilt, were still around it would make a far more interesting story.

Blond, statuesque Lancaster (host of Food Network’s “This Is Your Fridge”) certainly looks like a media star but never achieves any level of veracity. She appears to be pulling every line from some deep memory bank rather than actually establishing a character. Marcellus and Gebhart do not fare much better, although Marcellus’ Izzy does score a few comedic points when relating her warped experiences as a runway model.

The men also suffer from arrested character development. Boyd is the most interesting of the three, but his Roger appears to be performing in a completely different play than everyone else.

By far, Rosenthal turns in the most successful portrayal. Her well-defined upwardly mobile Pat offers brief but much needed relief from the ever-needy Bowlin sisters.

Maids of Honor

2100 Square Feet, Hollywood; 99 seats; $20 top

Production

Two Chicks Prods. presents a play in two acts by Joan Casademont. Directed by Ben Livingston.

Creative

Sets and lighting, Burris Jackes. Opened Oct. 12, 2001; reviewed Oct. 20; closes Nov. 17. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast

Izzy Bowlin - Andrea Marcellus
Annie Bowlin - Courtney Gebhart
Monica Bowlin - Julie Lancaster
Pat Weinhardt - Dori Rosenthal
Harry Hobson - Brendan O'Neill
Joel Silverman - Joe Anthony
Roger Dowling - Blake Boyd

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