Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball

University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 1995

Five Women… grapples with questions about the nature of friendship and sexual relationships for generation which was born in the wake of the sexual revolution and which has come of age in the era of AIDS.

As they watch two of their peers celebrate what looks to be a less than promising union, five women and one man walk a tight rope between autonomy and commitment. The struggle to support one another, while at the same time striving to be more truthful than the examples set before them at this wedding reception, is at the core of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.

A particular challenge

With all due respect to Mr. Ball’s accomplishments, this early play is not very well written.  It creaks of what men seem to think that women do when we are left to our own devices; it is melodramatic; it is often hackneyed.  How then to tell a good story?  I talked with my cast – a mix of graduate and undergraduate students – about the play’s problems, and we mined the text, we dug very deep to unearth psychologically grounded motives for makeovers in mid-wedding and sloppy sitcom moments.  We fought for every last beat of the play.

Reviews

Chris Sampson, WHUS 91.7 FM:
” All five actresses do superb jobs of creating their characters… a well-balanced ensemble piece. Five Women has laughs and some very serious moments; making for an enjoyable (if somewhat unsettling) two hours at the theatre. It is well worth seeing as an example of what regional theatre can be — fresh, personal, and honest.”

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Too many people will always be after your theatre job (if you ever get one) for you to survive being lazy.
– David Ball

You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation…
--The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i