continued The play’s “hero” is a man whose wife has apparently died in a tragic accident. Six months later, however, he weds a new wife without ever bothering to tell her about his previous marriage.
When the first wife suddenly reappears, confusion, collusion and prevarication preoccupy the characters as the audience chuckles at the way one lie invariably leads to another and another.
Jon Wright, BTG’s multi-purpose everyman, plays Pete, the newlywed widower, and Wright energetically expresses Pete’s obsession for obfuscation. Patrick Bridenbaker portrays Pete’s best buddy, George, who’s involuntarily drawn into a series of fake relationships. The ensuing chaos leaves Bridenbaker’s character constantly confounded, and his befuddled double-takes draw the play’s biggest laughs.
Heather Jensen appears as Pete’s new wife, Sarah, who also resorts to lying and scheming when it serves her purposes. Jensen’s got personality plus and is a natural as the woman scorned, despite the plot’s silly trappings. A versatile Denise Ballou plays Sarah’s mom, Margot, a stereotypical mother-in-law from hell who always suspects the worst from poor Pete.
BTG newcomer Tammy Wilkinson portrays Jessica, Pete’s first wife thought to have been killed in a mountaineering mishap in the Himalayas. A vivacious henna-haired honey, Wilkinson’s Jessica is part ditz and part dynamo. She claims amnesia, but by the time she makes her entrance the audience knows better than to believe it.
Pete, of course, avoids admitting to her that he’s remarried, but he also avoids her persistent advances. A human deus ex machina, a California dude named Alan, appears toward the end of Act 2 to either complicate things or to straighten them out, depending on your point of view. Played by tall and handsome Michael Callahan, Alan declares undying love for Jessica despite his history of West Coast dalliances.
“First Things First” ends happily but not before Denise Ballou turns in an utterly convincing drunk scene which takes the play out on a hilarious high note.
“First Things First,” directed by Jon Barden and produced by Jay Burris, continues at the First Presbyterian Education Center, 64 Oswego St., in B’ville, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $13 for students; 877-8465; baldwinsvilletheatreguild.org.