running time: ten minutes
setting: adjoining dressing rooms in a church prior to a wedding
Vanessa, a bride
Martin, her groom
Felicity, his Best Woman
Quentin, Vanessa’s Man of Honor
Vanessa and Martin are getting married and having simultaneous nervous breakdowns in adjoining dressing rooms. Quentin and Felicity, their respective Man of Honor and Best Woman, are doing their best to offer comfort, and in the course of their conversation it is revealed that each is the former lover of one half of the bridal couple. Assuaged, Vanessa and Martin in turn console their heartbroken friends, who in the final sequence reveal their own tangled love affair.
This short piece was written for The Quicksilver Productions short play collection, “I Laughed, I Cried, I Shot the Person Next to Me,” and interestingly enough, in the original draft, Martin and Quentin had been lovers, as had Vanessa and Felicity. The problem with that is it gave the impression that a pair of homosexual couples were “going straight” and that defeated the real center of the play, which for me is focusing on the sometimes bittersweet awkwardness of what it’s like to remain friends with a former romantic partner. As with many re-writes, this turned out to be a happy accident because, by having the non-traditional gender switch in the wedding roles, we now have ironic titles for Vanessa and Martin’s exes: Felicity has become the Best Woman to Martin’s groom, even though he’s marrying someone else; Quentin is Vanessa’s Man of Honor, even though he won’t end up being her husband. Since the emotional thrust of the play comes in the moment where Felicity and Quentin turn to each other for emotional support it really couldn’t have worked out more perfectly, bringing home the point that sometimes the deepest love is that which sacrifices itself, but recognizing that sacrifice is never easy and better not done alone, while also emphasizing that meaningful relationships are complicated and transcend conventional titles while still being conducted under the influence of those titles. After all, it’s nice being the Man of Honor, but who wouldn’t prefer to be the husband to a woman he loves?
Quicksilver Productions, Inc., January 15 & 16, 1999, part of “I Laughed, I Cried, I Shot the Person Next to Me”, the Cabaret Theater at the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson, Arizona. Directed and Designed by Stuart Eugene Bousel; Costumes by Juli Golder; Lighting by Jasmine Koh. Cast: Dana Faris (Vanessa), Brian McGrath (Martin), Regan Pietrucha (Felicity), Chris McCaleb (Quentin)