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Profiles Theatre’s ‘Bachelorette’ is no party

AmandPowell (from left) Hillary Marren LindAugustOrr star “Bachelorette” Profiles Theatre. | Shawn Cagle PHOTO

Amanda Powell (from left), Hillary Marren, Linda Augusta Orr star in “Bachelorette” at Profiles Theatre. | Shawn Cagle PHOTO

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◆ Through March 11

◆ Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway

◆ Tickets, $35-$40

◆ (773) 549-1815;

Updated: February 3, 2012 1:12PM

If you have a pressing need to watch several unquestionably hot, dirty-talking, royally screwed-up women in their late twenties get totally wasted (and in one case come close to death) from booze, cocaine, pot, pills and anonymous sex-in-a-stupor, then Leslye Headland’s awful play, “Bachelorette,” now in its Midwest premiere at Profiles Theatre, is right up your alley.

A particularly pathetic variation on “Girls Gone Wild” (though it is set in the wedding suite of a luxury New York hotel rather than on a semi-tropical beach), the play, an unremitting exercise in female self-loathing, was a recent off Broadway hit, and has just been screened in its movie version at the Sundance Film Festival. So much for hype. And the question you might well ask after its 90 minutes of debasement has run its course is simply: Who needs this? Or, you might just cry out: Sexploitation!

Yes, the show’s three principal actresses — Amanda Powell, Linda Augusta Orr and Hillary Marren — are terrific, fearless actresses, and each is stunningly attractive and sexy in their different ways. But their characters are so sick, angry, debauched and deeply sad, and Headland’s play is such a grotesque exercise in sadomasochism, that the whole thing ends up feeling like a warped advertisement for date rape or worse. And you don’t have to be an old-line feminist to think these girls are in need of hardcore consciousness-raising.

The whole thing is set in motion as two veteran, hard-partying girls — Gena (Powell) and Katie (Orr) — arrive half-stoned in the bridal suite reserved for Becky (Rakisha Pollard), the Plus Size girl who, much to their surprise (and deep envy), is marrying a handsome and very wealthy hedge fund manager the next morning. Two guys they’ve picked up — Jeff (Adam Soule), the hard-edged narcissist and Joe (Eric Burgher), the essentially decent loser — follow them to the room a bit later.

Neither Gena nor Katie were invited to the wedding, but they’ve been asked to the suite by their friend, Regan (Marren, with her great head of coppery curls, lives up to her cruel Shakespearean namesake), who was Becky’s Brooklyn roommate and who, quite surprisingly, was asked to serve as her maid of honor. Becky plans to spend the night in her husband-to-be’s room.

Gena is a stunning brunette who still hasn’t healed from a bad breakup with a guy she loved. She has long been best pal and caretaker of Katie (Orr), a leggy blonde who works in retail, lives with her parents, has a history of suicide attempts and is desperate to marry before she turns30. Regan is a castrating bitch who works at a hospital, is forever angry at her med school boyfriend, and fancies herself superior to the other girls.

By the time Becky arrives in the room very late in the action, two of the girls will have savaged her wedding gown, there will be a vivid discussion of oral sex, one girl will go into a semi-coma, and all will have ingested toxic amounts of pharmaceuticals and champagne.

Director Darrell W. Cox, who has an uncanny gift for finding fresh female talent, has certainly done so again here, and the two actors are spot-on in their roles. But why waste so much effort on demeaning material?

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