This Fringe, Darrin Hagen and Trevor Schmidt celebrated their 10th anniversary writing plays together by re-mounting 2 Queens and Joker, and debuting Don’t Frown at the Gown.
Lately, I’ve been extra-fond of Guys in Disguise lately because I met a couple of great people who have become good friends at their sweet play, Flora and Fawna’s Field Trip.
Of their two shows this year, I was able to see Don’t Frown at the Gown. The starts sweetly enough. Set in 1962, Susan Fowler, a frivolous, young bride-to-be (played by Trevor Schmidt) enters a beautifully appointed bridal gown shop for the first time with her best friend and her mother in tow. The friend, Francesca (Jason Hardwick), is a quietly confident, nerdy young woman who has just landed a job presenting the weather on television. Susan’s glamorous but overbearing mother (Darrin Hagen) expects nothing but the best and most normal for her daughter. What could possibly go wrong?
The clashes between the three characters are hilarious, but it takes the calm presence of the bridal shop owner, Lady Laura Lee (Jake Tkaczyk) to upset their assumptions of how their lives should and will go.
Of all the characters, Lady Laura Lee is the most comfortable in her heels. We learn more about her as the other characters realize that things will never be the same after Susan marries. Mrs, Fowler is eager for her daughter to get on with married life, for good or ill, as she did. Francesca realizes that she’ll miss the Friday night sleepovers she’s had with Susan since they were little. Mrs. Fowler’s plans for Susan’s future leads to revelations about her past, while Francesa’s memories lead to a bittersweet realization about her future.
Don’t Frown at the Gown takes the audience on an emotional journey that includes themes of gender and identity. Hagen, Schmidt, Hardwick, and Tkaczyk skillfully and effortlessly combine comedy, drama, and some very relevant social commentary to create four memorable and sympathetic characters.
There is only one more show during the Fringe, this afternoon at 5 pm. Here’s hoping that Guys in Disguise have an opportunity to present the show again. Don’t Frown at the Gown is a fittingly beautiful anniversary milestone.