Now in its final weekend at Lincoln Center's Claire Tow Theater, At the Wedding asks its audience to ponder one's ability to let in love. Carlo (Mary Wiseman) has found herself at a wedding, though at the start it is not fully clear whose. What is evident, however, is the aching gap in Carlo's life where love and connection should be. Through a series of one-off interactions with different attendees at the wedding, we learn that she is in attendance at her ex-girlfriend's wedding, despite not having RSVPd.
We meet an intense cast of characters, many of which Carlo believe could possibly ruin the wedding. There's Carly (Karen Lugo), a very tense bridesmaid who Carlo describes as having the ability to go "all black swan" at any moment and whose name she refuses to say correctly; Eli (Will Rogers), a man at the bar who is planning on proposing to his partner at the wedding until Carlo tells him it would be "emotionally hijacking" the events of the day; and Maria (Carolyn McCormick), the mother of the bride who is drinking her way through the event while faced with a brand-new boring son-in-law and an ex-husband swanning around the whole affair with his new partner. And if that wasn't enough to make your head spin, we meet Leigh (Han van Sciver), who has instant chemistry with the lovelorn Carlo and continually asks her to leave the wedding with them. At face value, the introduction of Leigh seems to demonstrate a potential future for Carlo, but one is left wondering if there might be a catch to their proposal. Assisting through all the matrimonial proceedings is Victor (Jorge Donoso), who has been left to run the food and drinks for the whole affair by himself. And of course, there's the the bride herself. Eva (Rebecca S'manga Frank), seems to be basking happily in the glow of being a bride, but is surprised to come face to face with her ex.
Through Carlo's interactions with each of these characters, playwright Bryna Turner presents a character that is lost in herself. From Carlo's opening monologue – and coinciding interaction with the audience – we know there is a sense of regret and longing, as she possesses a hopeless hope that things will eventually turn her way. Carlo orates to the audience about the agony of losing someone you love when a relationship ends, viewing it as one of the worst feelings in the world. Yet at an event where Carlo believes someone will end up messing up the day and that every wedding needs a villain, it is Carlo herself who takes over the role of emotionally hijacking the affairs of the day and alienating others, despite have told Eli off for his potential proposal. Yet it is Eli, who happens to be a high school English teacher, who nails the very center of who Carlo is as a person by comparing her an ancient mariner from poetry, agonizingly telling his story to anyone he meets. This is exactly what Carlo does, subtly and tragically weaving her way through her conversation with others to detail how she believes Eva should be with her.
Turner's writing and characterizations provide a large pay-off to the attentive audience, as lines that initially appear unimportant come back around eventually. The performances of each cast member delicately weave together the threads that Turner lays down, connecting the characters not just to Carlo but to each other. The end result is almost tragic, as Carlo is left alone. She criticizes Eva for the "boring life" she has just bound herself to, though Eva hopes that Carlo will eventually have that kind of life to. Despite having a great rapport with Maria, who immediately overlooks the fact that Carlo did not RSVP to the wedding, Carlo ends up being cast off by her. And finally, when an adventurous night with Leigh appears to be on the cards, it comes crashing down as Leigh reveals that they are in an open relationship with none other than the man Carlo talked out of publicly proposing at the bar. There is heartbreak as Carlo watches Leigh and Eli embrace as they leave the wedding, only cushioned by a small glimmer of hope for Carlo's future as she ultimately wishes Eva every happiness in her life. Through this somewhat disastrous wedding, At the Wedding details just how hard it can be to pick up the pieces of your life when your heart gets broken, and shows how everyone around us is just doing their best, no matter the circumstances.