In this play by Alan Ball, Tracy is getting married and has chosen her bridesmaids: her cousin, Frances, her sister, Meredith, her new sister-in-law Mindy, and her two old friends Trisha and Georgeanne. The women all feel obligated to be a part of Tracy's wedding party, although none of them feel especially close to the bride. Each woman is looking to get away from the pressure of the reception; Meredith's room turns out to be the perfect escape.
Summary of the Action
Meredith and Frances arrive first. They are about the same age, but they are as different from one another as they could possibly be. Meredith has no qualms flashing the reception guests, screaming at her mother, or lighting up a joint. Frances is a Christian woman who doesn't hold with any deviant behavior whatsoever.
Trisha and Georgeanne soon join these two young women. Trisha arrives first and eagerly joins Meredith in the hunt for a joint. All three hope for some huge distraction to liven up the boring party. They had high hopes that the groom's lesbian sister Mindy would shake up this stately southern wedding reception, but so far Mindy has been keeping to herself.
Soon Georgeanne enters crying and runs for the bathroom. She is upset to see her old flame, Tommy Valentine, flirting with another woman at the reception. She and Tommy recently “re-connected” and Georgeanne assumed they would be going to a hotel together after the wedding reception. Meredith does her best to convince Georgeanne to go down to the reception and cause a major scene, but Trisha talks her out of it.
Mindy eventually makes her appearance in the room and fits right in with the other reception escapees. She brings food and news of the boring reception and partakes of the pot smoking as well.
The bridesmaids go in and out of the room as duty calls them downstairs. As one woman or another leaves, the resulting interaction among the bridesmaids reveals a slew of information. The audience soon finds out that Tommy not only dated and impregnated Georgeanne when they were teenagers but also committed acts of pedophilia with Meredith-sleeping with her repeatedly when she was only 12. Meredith had, and still has, a huge crush on Tommy and is furious with the other bridesmaids for wanting her to confront this issue. Trisha, who does not like the idea of settling down, has been flirting all night with another groomsman, Tripp, who eventually gets the courage to enter the room full of bridesmaids and ask Trisha for a date.
Setting: Meredith's bedroom
Time: Shortly after noon on a summer day
Cast size: This play can accommodate 6 actors.
Male characters: 1
Female characters: 5
Characters that could be played by either males or females: 0
Frances is a cousin of the bride and about the same age as Meredith. She is, as she repeatedly tells the other bridesmaids, a Christian. That means that she does not believe in alcohol, drugs, profanity, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, cigars or cigarettes, or making light of The Bible one little bit. She doesn't fit in with the other women but enjoys their company without compromising her morals
Meredith is the bride's younger sister. She has some unmanaged anger issues, particularly towards her mother, and a yearning for acceptance from the older women. She is not happy about this wedding, her role in it, or the guest list. She has a dark past with Tommy Valentine, the town's most handsome bachelor.
Trisha is a beautiful woman who has never settled down and rebels against the very idea of settling down. She is a serial dater and appears to have been with almost everyone except Tommy Valentine. Her beauty has gotten her into trouble and she has a riotous and rebellious past. She is accepting of new people, non-judgmental, and content with her life.
Georgeanne, Trisha, and Tracy (the bride) were all best friends in their teenage years. Georgeanne was never as beautiful and popular as Trisha and Tracey, but she kept up with them anyway. She even used to date Tommy Valentine, but he soon moved on to Tracy leaving her to get an abortion alone when she was still a teenager. Georgeanne is married but still came to the wedding thinking that she and Tommy would end up together. After all, they've been having an affair for the past three months.
Mindy is the groom's lesbian sister. She is beautiful and stately but does not try to appear feminine in any “Southern Belle” sense of the word. She knows she already sticks out at this wedding and therefore does not try too hard to fit in. She is thrilled to escape to the bedroom with the other bridesmaids and away from the wedding guests. Mindy would love to establish some sort of sisterly bond with Meredith and is irked when Meredith meets her attempts with anger and contempt.
Tripp is a groomsman at the wedding. He is nice looking, maybe not as nice looking as Tommy Valentine, but is a much better man. He and Trisha have flirted all night and he's finally got up enough courage to ask her out.
The bridesmaid dresses are the most important technical element in the show as they feature in the play's title. They must be large, garish, and a central character in and of themselves. Trisha looks the best in the dress, but the others shouldn't look like clowns. The wedding is supposed to be an elegant event in the eyes of Tracy, the bride, and so the dress should be designed with care. It should not be garish, but it should be over the top.
The setting for Five Women Wearing the Same Dress is a stationary set. It is Meredith's bedroom in an old Tennessee Victorian mansion. The “bones” of the room are classic Victorian in design, but Meredith has added pieces and covered walls and features to fit her personality. The effect should be discordant.
Content Issues: Sex, abortion, homosexuality, language, drugs, alcohol, pedophilia
Dramatists Play Service, Inc. holds the production rights for Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.