Front Row Reviewers

Oct 5, 2023 | Comedy, drama, Salt Lake County, Utah

The Answer is a Resounding YES! to Salt Lake Acting Company’s Can I Say Yes to That Dress?

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Jason and Alisha Hagey; Front Row Reviewers

Always one to challenge the status quo, Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC) has again produced a powerful exploration of our age and norms with their newest production, Can I Say Yes to That Dress? Workshopped in SLAC’s 2022/23 New Play Sounding Series, Can I Say Yes to That Dress? is a one-woman show that looks at our passions and appetites through the lens of a 52-year-old woman trying on a wedding dress that she hates in a bridal boutique’s dressing room as she prepares for her first marriage. The performance is a triumph. Not to be missed, Can I Say Yes to That Dress? is moving, entrancing, comical, and thought-provoking.

Sarah Shippobotham (Playwright/Sian Jones) has a lot to say. Beginning the play with a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Richard III, Shippobotham immediately tells her audience that we are here for her form of soliloquy: to see inside her head, to follow her raucous train of thought, and to take a journey into our own self-awareness through her diatribe on subjects as diverse as food, body hair, and the nature of love. She questions gender roles, sexuality, and femininity. Shippobotham is fearless.

Filled with self-doubt and social loathing, Shippobotham scrutinizes our modern world and the normative expectations placed on us by ourselves or by society. As she does so, she flows from moment to moment with a kind of free association, connecting thoughts on delicious finger foods to the f-word to wanting Olympic-quality sex. She explores how we are influenced, and how our consciousness is plied and shaped, by media and literature. We see how Sian’s view of relationships and the nature of love have been affected by Four Weddings and a Funeral, Romeo and Juliet, and D.H. Lawrence’s novella, The Fox, among others. Expectations and actualities are confronted head-on to dramatic and dizzying effect.

Shippobotham’s prowess as an actress is mesmerizing. Her ability to jump from thought to thought is compelling. Her true gift is being able to deliver an emotional soliloquy that is as hilarious as it is poignant. She is at once us, and we are her. The stage is littered with different kinds of mirrors and Shippobotham is our mirror as an audience. Our insecurities, paradoxes, incongruities, foibles, and fallacies are on full display. There is no judgment, no criticism, no malice in her portrayal, but a deep abiding love for the human race and all that makes us fallible and imperfect.

Jamie Rocha Allan (Director) helps Shippobotham create a dynamic experience filled with humor and humility. Allan is able to create strong scenes, each taking a special place on a small stage with very little in the way of props and furniture. He understands that Sian is the point of the play and, in turn, we as an audience are the true subject of that play.

The minimalist set is artfully designed by Cara Pomeroy (Scenic Designer). Pomeroy gives Sian an abstract world of mirrors – gilded mirrors, bathroom mirrors, car side mirrors, convex security mirrors – that cocoon her in a bridal boutique’s dressing room with a wire frame dress form mannequin and luxurious chaise longue. Pomeroy’s world is filled with crookedness, holes, and reflections – like the play itself. Spencer Potter (Costume Designer) purposefully puts Sian in an ill-fitting wedding gown that has all of the stereotypical trappings of layers, lace, and tulle with gold embellishments – the dress being the representation of Sian Jones herself. The result is at first funny, but the implications over the course of the play become profound.

More subtle but no less serviceable to the production are the contributions of Jessica Greenburg (Lighting Designer) and Cynthia L. Kehr Rees (Sound Designer). Greenburg’s lighting enhances beats, gives a delicate understanding to Sian’s psyche, and helps us know when we are inside her head versus when she is in reality. Kehr Rees produces an almost imperceptible ratcheting of tension through her sound design, heightening the emotional consequence of Shippobotham’s acting, and creating a stronger empathy with her character.

On stage, Shippobotham shines. Sian Jones is an everyperson. In context, Can I Say Yes to That Dress? has far more meaning than just the dress. Upon exiting the theatre, there is a sense of hope and there is a new paradigm to think about the world and our place in it. Salt Lake Acting Company continues its tradition of excellence and promoting new works with Can I Say Yes to That Dress? but it also gives the audience a performance worthy of attention. Camden Barrett (Assistant Director) says of their time with this production, “I have learned attention is the most generous practice I can enliven for this work.” They’re right. Don’t miss Sarah Shippobotham’s tour de force. Indeed, you can say yes to that dress.

Salt Lake Acting Company Presents Can I Say Yes to That Dress? by Sarah Shippobotham.
Salt Lake Acting Company – Upstairs Theatre – 168 West 500 North, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84103
Workshopped in SLAC’s 2022/23 New Play Sounding Series
September 27 – October 29, 2023
Ticket Cost: $32-34
Wednesday-Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 8, 15, 22, 29 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Box Office Phone: 801.363.7522
Box Office Email:
Open 11am – 5pm, Mon – Fri
SLAC Website
SLAC Facebook Page
SLAC Instagram Feed
Free ZAP Performance: Tuesday, September 26th at 7 PM. To reserve your free seats, please call the Ticketing Office at 801.363.7522.

Accessibility Performances:
Open Captioned Performance
October 15th at 6PM
Audio Described Performance
October 8th at 6 PM
Sensory Performance
October 7th at 2 PM
ASL Interpreted Performance
October 22nd at 6 PM

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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