Theatre Review: ‘Wall Street Wedding’ at Pinch ‘n’ Ouch

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Bryn Striepe and Christie Vozniak in Wall Street Wedding. (Photo by Drake Simons)

You know you’re in for a fun time when the unseen announcer, greeting the audience before the play begins, calmly admonishes you to “turn off those f—g cell phones.”

The play would be “Wall Street Wedding,” Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre’s rollicking new satiric comedy, running through March 1 with the present cast.  An extension is planned; more about that shortly.

Perhaps you’ve seen the current Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a movie that plops you right into the belly of the beast—the manic machinations of making money at any cost, by any means whatever.

“Wall Street Wedding,” by artistic director Grant McGowen, focuses more on the reverberations and aftershocks that a violent economic downturn (like the 2008 crash) have on human relationships, be they marriages or friendships.

The play opens brilliantly with a monologue by Phil (Alex Van) bemoaning his losses, pondering the future, worrying about his relationship with his small son.  Never underestimate the potential power of a great opening; I was hooked from the start.  Mr. Van, heretofore unknown to me, is an accomplished film and stage actor, and he is funny, mesmerizing, and heartbreaking all at once.

Then there are Julie (Jackie Costello) and Tom (Grant McGowen), a rather tense married couple walking a tightrope to save their relationship.  Julie is beautiful and jittery with a chip on her shoulder and doesn’t want to make adjustments to their formerly affluent lifestyle.  But then we learn there are deeper reasons for Julie’s malaise, which I cannot reveal here.  Both actors are outstanding with their overlapping dialogue, which cracks and sparkles.  Ms. Costello glows from the stage; she has “presence.”  You can’t take your eyes off her.

Two other fine actresses complete this ensemble:  Christie Vozniak (Carla) and Bryn Striepe (Becky) add depth, power, and nuance to the piece.  We meet them at a bachelorette party.  One of them becomes attached to Phil, and a whole new plot line ensues.

This is a play about hooking up, breaking up, making up, and the power of human contact, particularly in tense times.  All sorts of relationship permutations abound, and they enliven “Wall Street Wedding.”  Phil appears to have a bit of an awkward man-crush on Tom, but it’s funny and only serves to demonstrate the complexity and necessity of human contact.  We are people who need people, the playwright seems to say, starting with ourselves.

Robby Glade does a most admirable job of directing the play, whose second act is just a tad long.  Act I takes off like a shot; it’s a hard act to follow (no pun intended).  But this show needs to be seen.

Just so you know:  The current cast plays until March 1.  Then, in a bold move, another cast holds forth from March 13-22.  Directed by Hillary Heath, this cast includes Andy Fleming, Brian Ashton Smith, Rachel Shuey, Morgan McGowen, and Alana Cheshire.  Oh—there is mature content here.

Artistic director/actor/playwright McGowen must be brimming with confidence in his play and in the theatre’s talent pool.  I say “Bravo.”  I may sneak back in to see the new cast; however, for a bracing ride through the canyons of Wall Street (and its survivors), see this show now.

For tickets and information, visit pnotheatre.org.                      

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