Bad date stories. Most of us probably have a few. It’s the stuff of being alive and wanting to make a connection.
Those funny tales are the sugary coating to Theresa Rebeck’s 2003 show, “Bad Dates,” a 90-minute, one-woman performance that dives deeper than its outer layer might suggest.
“It’s a play about shoes, clothes and dating, with an interesting, soulful, beautiful underbelly,” said director Joye Cook-Levy.
The show opens Friday at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and runs through May 26.
Haley Walker, single mom of a teenager, is re-entering the world of dating after an eight-year hiatus. During her self-imposed celibacy, she’s risen through the New York City dining ranks and become the manager of a trendy restaurant. How she got there is a juicy story, as are the multiple tales of her attempts to find love, told from inside her cozy bedroom.
A show that might seem lighthearted from the outset becomes dotted with suspicious morsels: mobsters, piles of cash, disgruntled former employees. Cook-Levy says it’s the playwright’s fascination with the world of crime peeking through, a theory supported by Rebeck’s writing gigs for “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue.”
“...like comfort food — say, barbecued chicken and garlic mashed potatoes — it goes down pretty easy. ... Ms. Rebeck writes with an offhand savvy that gives this slight play a disarming informality, as though Haley were on a pre-date or post-date date — with us,” wrote New York Times critic Bruce Weber in 2003.
As the play proceeds, the audience learns that while Haley has juggled motherhood and career, she’s made poor decisions involving some shady characters. But don’t rush to judge. Those choices were born of a struggle to be independent.
“We need each other,” Cook-Levy said. “We don’t have to be feminist warriors and do everything by ourselves. There’s a lot more to this play than what was on the surface of it.”
Denver-based actor Megan Van de Hey stars as Haley.
“She’s the kind of actor who delves into all the layers, of discovering love and the psychology of things,” Cook-Levy said. “She’s a powerhouse on stage. You just lean in and wonder what she’s going to do.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM