Two Plays, Between Two Mediums

Leslye Headland is on a serious roll, generating buzz in theatre, film and TV. Assistance, slotted for TV adaptation at NBC, leaves audiences in stitches. The film adaptation of her critically-acclaimed play Bachelorette premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which Leslye directed, was hailed by the New York Times as “viciously funny satire…with the crackling intensity of machine-gun fire.” Bachelorette received wide release in September and is currently available to rent.

Like Assistance, Bachelorette belongs to Leslye’s Seven Deadly Sins series; the former treats greed, the latter gluttony. Both plays take an unflinching look at Millennials, treating Leslye’s generation with her signature snark. Bachelorette follows a trio of single women (played by Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan) as they grudgingly play bridesmaids to their overweight friend, Becky (Rebel Wilson). The women arrange an epic bacchanal for Becky’s bachelorette party, but queen bee Regan (Kirsten Dunst) can’t resist instructing the male stripper to call Becky by her high school nickname – Pigface. Old tensions flare, spurring a series of events that includes the ripping of Becky’s wedding dress.

Bachelorette was produced on film by Will Ferrell and Philadelphia native Adam McKay, the team behind NBC’s Assistance pilot. In adapting her stage plays for the screen, Leslye makes big changes. “When you change mediums, you change mediums,” she told the Wilma. “The first thing to change is the plot.” As a film, for instance, Bachelorette examines Gena’s (Lizzy Caplan) pain as the wedding brings her face to face with her ex Clyde (Adam Scott).  On stage, Clyde is left unseen, a symbol of Gena’s past happiness.

Leslye, who is beginning work on the Assistance pilot now, doesn’t yet know how this play will change across mediums, but, she told the Wilma, “I’m a slave to my characters. I’m excited to let them dictate what this new medium is going to mean. What’s so exciting is that I get to live with the characters again. Nick and Nora are people that I could hang out with forever.”

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