By Neil Shurley
“Perfect Wedding,” opening this weekend at Greenville Little Theatre, contains all the elements you’d expect from a classic farce: slamming doors, mistaken identities, comedic chaos, and a flying toilet brush.
Wait. A toilet brush?
“Oh, yeah,” says actor Graham Shaffer. “We’ve got toilet brushes flying across the stage.”
“That’s actually the seventh character in the play,” actor Jenell Kosmicki says. “The toilet brush.”
Shaffer and Kosmicki play a bride and groom getting ready for their noon wedding.
Shaffer begins explaining the plot. “Bill, the groom, wakes up on the morning of his wedding with someone in his bed —”
“Who isn’t his fiancée,” Kosmicki chimes in. “And his fiancée is on her way to the hotel.”
“We’ve booked the suite for today so she can get ready for the noon wedding, and I wake up with a mystery woman beside me,” Shaffer continues. “My best man, who is supposed to be arranging everything, comes in and finds me disheveled.”
“And they’re trying to keep it from the bride,” Kosmicki says, “and trying to fix it.”
“And it just snowballs into more and more lies as the play progresses,” Shaffer says. “The best man’s girlfriend and the maid get involved, and then the bride’s mother comes in just when everything is coming to a head.”
“And that,” Kosmicki says, “just creates more chaos.”
“Perfect Wedding” is Kosmicki’s first show since high school. “I went to a college that wasn’t really centered around the arts, and after that, I had night jobs and children, and they can cramp your style,” she says, laughing. “But in the last few years, as my kids have gotten older, I’ve just felt this desire to try to do it again.”
After “bombing” an audition for another GLT show, she told her husband she was done — but he encouraged her not to quit. “He told me I need to go try, that even if it’s terrible, I just need to go get the experience, and get more confidence and do it. So I did. And I’m here! And I’m really excited to be here!”
By contrast, Shaffer is a local theater veteran and works as GLT’s technical director. So not only does he have to worry about his performance, he has to make sure all the doors slam correctly.
“There are a lot of slamming doors,” Kosmicki says.
“It’s been hectic but a lot of fun,” Shaffer says. “It’s a great cast; we all gel really well with each other. But it’s tough because this farce is so particular with the way things are worded, and everything has to be exactly right.”
“It takes a lot of practice,” Kosmicki says. “A lot of fine-tuning.”
“Having Allen McCalla as director is great because he knows how to tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it,” Shaffer says. “He knows exactly what he wants and he gets you to do that. And I love that.”
“And he’s always right,” Kosmicki adds. “He gives you the freedom to try something different, but in the end, he’s right because he’s got such a great vision for it.”
“We’re at that point now where we’ve learned the lines, we know our blocking, now we’ve got to find the fun and the juice,” Shaffer says. “We have to find out which moments we can really squeeze and get that comedy out of it. And we’re discovering that every day more and more. Like having the doors changed everything — they become characters in the play, and the timing of slamming two of them at once when you can’t see that person on the other side of the stage, and knowing there’s a door slam between these two lines, and just little things like that. There’s so much detail that we have to practice over and over again so that the audience doesn’t think we practiced so much.”
Shaffer and Kosmicki call the show a roller coaster.
“It’s so quick moving,” Kosmicki says.
“It’s probably going to be about an hour and 45 minutes,” Shaffer says, “but it feels like 15 minutes.”
“It does!” Kosmicki adds. “It really does! And we’re cracking ourselves up. It really is fun.”
When: April 13-29; times vary
Where: Greenville Little Theatre, 444 College St.