When Josie goes on adventure to find her father, she stumbles upon a mysterious mansion that houses a screaming child in search of a nanny. Josie poses as the nanny and discovers this place is also home to her father who disappeared. But what exactly is this place, well that’s the big question. Palmer’s Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest is a modern fairy tale with a horror spin. It’s also a tale of mystery and intrigue that creates rules and occurrences as the play progresses. The rules of the world that Palmer devises are quite confusing, conflicting, and, at times, implausible. Sometimes depending on happenstance, the way the plot unfolds makes you scratch your head and think, “wait, what?” The spell that is cast over the house somehow makes people forget. Josie’s father, Everett, and her fiancé, Warren, have no recollection of Josie when they see her. And we never really know why. Josie happens to forget to call Warren while she’s there. We never see this “vortex” that prevents this amnesia-like occurrence. The timeline of events that Palmer sets forth are also a bit questionable. It’s quite possible the world that Palmer has created is very specific, but the execution of the world needs to be much cleaner because her story is fairly beautiful and heartwarming.
|photo courtesy of Isaiah Tanenbaum|
While Palmer’s rules may have been confusing, director Heather Cohn’s rules of the space were equally as blurred. The space that scenic designer Will Lowry created was a beautiful wood inspired set that created some interesting challenges. With no true boundaries, besides a door and a platform, Cohn’s physical world was never consistent as actors trotted around the stage haphazardly. The costumes designed by Stephnie Levin fit the characters’ personalities quiet well but the wedding dress, especially post reveal was absolutely stunning on Rachael Hip-Flores.
Despite the beauty of the story, Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest was an underachieving piece that needed more time and care. The idea was something special, but the execution was a miss.