Halfway through David Tsonos’ tedious and rambling show, a former boyfriend, one of the many trotted out as a manifested recollection from the trio of bridesmaids, appears before us with his all-time football score achieved during his childhood. Does this live to satisfy? Unlikely. Does it advance the act? No. But it is indicative of the play in front of us, which also peaked in its infancy.
Patronising and sexist to both genders without taking any responsibility for its atrocious scripting.
The premise of I’m Always the Bridesmaid is simplistic: three jaded bridesmaids list their romantic tragedies whilst multi-role actor Corin Rys Jones performs as their former lovers. In itself, this could have worked, but what was delivered unfortunately plodded sluggishly on, incessantly listing the well-known problems of dating. The demeanour is morose, battling to keep an unmoved audience engaged with both inherently flawed dialogue, tepid acting and no overarching conceptual gratification. There were some brief spells where it looked to be improving, but it petered out, unwilling to relinquish its stubborn reliance on hackneyed convention.
Somewhere in this muddled, painful, mistimed medley of a play are performers aspiring to be recognised. Kirsten Z. Cairns, the actress who portrays Stephanie, is most deserving of immediate praise: she demands no special privileges yet provides a glossy presence unique from her fellow actors where she brings a little ray of hope amidst the turbulent storm around her. The same cannot be said for Maria Shehata (Chevon), whose unwillingness to drop the condescension does not see her take the role seriously, though this likely stems from the script’s inhibitions. The sole male of the cast, Jones, delivers the most versatile range in acting, but not to any eminence. Rather, he inhabits a jack-of-all-trades role that doesn’t see him graduate within the very narrow confines he is afforded.
Bereft of any innovating qualities, I’m Always the Bridesmaid is a cataclysmic failure. The writing lacks subtlety on any level. And the dialogue is littered with unnecessary sentiments that should have been left to evolve within the performance, with lines like “A team is only as strong as its weakest player” and “That’s so melodramatic!”, ironically foreshadowing the play’s major defects. More problematic is its attempt to aggressively explain away the reasons for relationship failure in a fragile pursuit of rectifying mankind’s inherent dating woes that have plagued the face of the Earth for years, and will likely persist for decades to come. In this respect, I’m Always the Bridesmaid is neither original nor revolutionary. Rather, it is patronising and sexist to both genders without taking any responsibility for its atrocious scripting.