Where were you when the ending didn’t drop?
In this age of 90-minute plays, audiences should be conditioned to expect a pivot to the climax/denouement ramp-up around the 70-minute mark…at the exact juncture that LCT3’s At the Wedding abruptly ends.
As I always harp on about, countering convention in this manner can’t help but draw attention to its anti-formulaic self. And in a play that riffs on such a familiar set-up — WEDDING PARTAY SHENANIGANS!!! — rejecting the predicted narrative structure sticks out like a sore thumb, so much so that the audience might feel deprived of not only a conclusion, but anything conclusive, as if the play’s incomplete.
Well folx, welcome not only to real life, but to the main character’s unfulfilled existence as well.
Weddings are a mainstay of artistic plots for probably obvious reasons: dramatic sparks fly when you shove a bunch of your emotionally-charged nearest and dearest into a confined space where past, present, and future collide in a ritual of communal contemplation and reflection. When following a lonely soul through these escapades, we anticipate this micro setting to house a macro opportunity for a complete A-Z arc; she’s put through the ringer of her life, only to emerge out the other side a slightly new person, with the evening’s lessons learned in tow!
But this sort of artificial wrap-up can read as a load of baloney; how many nights actually offer clear existential resolutions? Precisely.
Not sure about you, but my wedding experiences hue a lot closer to At the Wedding‘s depiction; I drunkenly stumble from one “resonant” (or is that just the alcohol slur-talking?) conversation to another, ranging from the profound to the trivial, with old friends and first meetings alike. At the end of the festivities, I’m left to pick up the recollected shards of these discussions to formulate them into some sort of lasting meaning.
Which is the very situation that At the Wedding deposits its audience into. This lost gal has spent the play bouncing off people at various stages of their lives, ultimately leaving her…where? Does she know? Can she even know, without seeing her life through into the aftermath/fallout?
The aesthetics of the production’s staging hammer home this idea; she quite literally floats from one scene to the next — in comes one, out goes the other — without barriers in between; the form is formlessness. And immediately before the lights dim for good, firm doors finally appear; which will she choose?
Well, that’s left for the audience to decide as they make their way out the theater doors. The seeming prematurity of this exit forces the issue: what shape will her resulting maturity (or lack thereof) take?
Who can say? Not her, and not the playwright; how about us?