Standing on Ceremony, Second City Theatricals, at Second City E.T.C. Anyone who's been a bride or groom appreciates the trauma, sweetness, and absurdity of "starring" in a wedding. Second City Detroit writer-performers Maribeth Monroe and Kirk Hanley, playing unmarried cohabitants Mike and Meg, explore the angst of the extras: the guests. An invitation to a cousin's wedding poses myriad challenges, from the mundane (choosing an appropriately priced gift) to the monumental (examining their own relationship). The humor is lightweight but resonates on many levels: if the bicker-kvetch-make up cycle doesn't ring a bell, the awkward prewedding rituals and reception indignities--the loser table and the chicken dance--surely will.
What keeps this production from turning into a scaled-down non-Italian Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding is the push-pull between Mike and Meg--the suspense of wondering whether they'll realize they're right for each other before they wreck the relationship. And although their banter is wittier than one finds in most households outside of Sitcomville, it never strays far from the truth. The inventive structure that Monroe, Hanley, and director Nancy Hayden have devised compartmentalizes the story into neat sections alternating between the present (the wedding) and the past--the couple's interactions and moments of revelation when they spill their guts to supporting characters (also played by Monroe and Hanley). The result is more meaningful than a linear story would have been.