by Theresa Rebeck
A single mom juggles her crazy life which includes raising her teenage daughter, managing a New York restaurant (run by the Romanian mob) and “getting back in to dating”. Bad Dates is a guilty pleasure, offering hilarious reflections on relationships, jobs, fashion, and dating through genuinely captivating monologues.
'BAD DATES' OFFERS EVER-HOPEFUL, CHARMING HEROINE
Portland Press Herald by Steve Feeney, 10/2/2011
Haley Walker, the only onstage character in "Bad Dates," is a bit of a shoe freak. She's always searching her impressive and constantly growing collection for that pair that she can be sure is genuinely "cute."
Perhaps that's the best word to describe this 10th-season opener from Portland's Good Theater as well. "Sweet" and "funny" would also apply.
Playwright Theresa Rebeck's insights are modest and perhaps more likely to garner chuckles of recognition from female members of the audience than from the males. Men, too, though, will probably enjoy the show, not the least because the star makes for an attractive protagonist.
Director Brian P. Allen has cast accomplished New York and Hollywood actress Dana Cuomo to take on the role of Haley, who is onstage for all of the five-scene, 90-minute play. Her 40-ish Haley recounts directly to the audience -- often while trying on and changing clothes and shoes -- her plans for and the ultimate results of her attempts to re-enter the dating scene after getting over a bad marriage, raising a young daughter and building a career as a restaurant manager.
Cuomo employs a credible Texas accent, which sometimes swerves toward a down-home, tell-it-like-it-is inflection and other times shows her character's softer side. She does a good job of communicating that her Haley is letting the audience in on her personal secrets.
The bedroom set by Stephen Underwood and costume design by Justin Cote nicely reinforce the intimate feeling of the play.
Perhaps it was more a result of the accent but, at Saturday's performance, Cuomo's delivery in a few spots did seem ever so slightly rushed. There are some very funny lines that deserve a moment to breathe. On the other hand, Haley is in a sort of panic as her romantic hopes seem to be continually dashed. So, a bit of chattering also fits the role.
The legal problems that Haley encounters late in the play help resolve her dating issues but also stretch her claim to everywoman status a tad. But this is not a play to think about too much.
As in most good dates, "Bad Dates" is most successful when you just relax, sit back and let its likable character and nice little message happen.
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A GOOD ‘BAD DATES’
The Forecaster by Scott Andrews, 10/2/2011
Good Theater’s “Bad Dates” is really, really good. That’s the executive summary of the opening production of this professional company’s 2011-2012 season. Theresa Rebeck’s script is thoughtful and funny, and actress Dana Cuomo infuses its Maine premiere with warmth and wit.
Bad experiences make for good playwriting and humorous storytelling. That’s the basic premise for “Bad Dates,” a one-woman play by Theresa Rebeck that opened last weekend and runs through Oct. 16 at Portland’s Good Theater.
Director Brian P. Allen has engaged New York actress Dana Cuomo to play the part of the attractive, middle-aged divorced mom who has decided to get back into the dating game, and recounts some of her misadventures.
Her first attempt involves an older man whose principal talking points are his many illnesses, cholesterol and colonoscopies. Her second date, set up by her well-meaning mom, is with an ill-tempered gay man. Her third date never shows up. A fourth lands her in a police station.
Although I’m not a big fan of one-man or one-woman shows, this one is exceptionally good. Cuomo is totally engaging, and totally convincing. Her hour and a half, spent mostly sitting in her bedroom recounting her experiences, is both funny and enlightening.
My companion, a lady who said that she’s been through a few bad dates herself, alternately winced and laughed.
Haley – Dana Cuomo
Directed by Brian P. Allen
Set Design – Stephen Underwood
Costumes/Production Stage Manager – Justin Cote
Lighting Design – Jamie Grant
Set Decoration/Scenic Artist – Janet Montgomery
Assistant Tech Director/Photographer – Craig Robinson
Production Assistant – Meredith Lamothe
Assistant Stage Manager – Heidi Therrien
* Member Actors' Equity Association