Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
Director – Arianna Movassagh
Set Design – Charles Wallace
Lighting Design – Chris Robinson
Properties – Rachael Plankey
Costume Design – Arianna Movassagh, Kim Smith, Sherry Etzel
Sound Design – Arianna Movassagh, Sherry Etzel, Chris Robinson
Stage Manager – Bonnie Hanvey
Haley Walker – Sherry Etzel
Reviewed Performance 8/18/2013
Reviewed by Elaine Plybon, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
With “I Will Survive” as the opening soundtrack to Sherry Etzel’s entrance as Haley Walker, the tone was set for a strong and independent woman to invite the audience into her life over a period of several months as she plays the dating game after an eight year break to raise her daughter. The fourth wall was broken immediately with the line, “Aren’t these shoes cute?”, and the ensuing ninety-minute monologue never closed the wall.
There is only one performer and her dialogue reminiscent of a good storyteller with an audience. Additional characters are introduced on the other side of telephone conversations or her daughter’s arm and loud music coming from another bedroom in the apartment. This was a giant undertaking for a small theatre, where one actor on the stage has to carry an audience’s attention in an entertaining and artful way. Director Arianna Movassagh put together an actor and crew who managed to pull it off in an amusing way.
The stage was set for success. Set Designer Charles Wallace created a believable representation of a New York apartment bedroom. Center stage is Haley’s bed which is strewn with shoes and a fuzzy coverlet. The bi-level bedroom is also a storage room for shoes – many, many pairs of shoes – which have become furnishings in themselves with boxes and boxes of shoes stacked on top of each other on every spare inch of floor space. At stage right there is a hallway which houses the door to the daughter’s bedroom and the door to the outside world. Stage left is a door which leads, presumably, to the bathroom, as Haley steps out of it carrying toothpaste and scrubs her teeth with her fingers as she continues her monologue. A nice touch was added with the inclusion of rain falling outside the window each time there was a storm brewing outside.
Costumes are credited to a team consisting of Arianna Movassagh, Sherry Etzel and Chris Robinson. This team accumulated a variety of outfits for Etzel to wear which represented and enhanced the portrayal of Walker as she prepared for several dates throughout the show. Additionally, the choice of apparel for Walker when she is not preparing for dates but merely relaxing at home was well done and gave further insight into the character, whose choice of footwear at home is a large pair of fuzzy bunny slippers.
The additional characters gave us insight into Haley’s best friend, her brother BJ. Haley calls on BJ every time she needs advice and to fill him in on the results of each date she endures. Occasionally, the unheard voice on the other end of the line is not BJ and it was often confusing since Haley’s first words when answering the phone usually revealed an assumption that the call was from BJ. The character of the daughter was represented mostly by the loud music blaring from the hallway door whenever Haley wanted a second opinion about an outfit. The timing on this portion of the soundtrack was often a little off, starting as Etzel moved toward the hallway, rather than when she opened the door.
When there is only one actor, the performance rests solely on their shoulders. There can be no room for low energy or missed cues to be balanced out by other cast members. There are also no opportunities for interaction other than with the set pieces. Etzel did a fantastic job of using props to guide her actions in a fluid and natural way. As she went through numerous costume changes behind a privacy screen, Etzel continued her monologue effortlessly and without hesitation. Sitting in front of the vanity, her interaction with scarves and makeup became a secondary dialogue and revealed this actress’ ability to encompass the whole character. Etzel’s portrayal of Walker often came across as more native New Yorker than transplanted Texan, but since that part of the storyline seemed inconsequential it did not diminish the performance. Etzel delivered her lines as though focused on getting them said correctly, rather than on deepening the audience’s connection with the character. At times, this kept the audience from seeing a range in emotion from this woman who clearly would have experienced many ups and downs during the course of the play.
Women will relate to Haley Walker’s dating journey and shoe fetish, and men can earn extra points for accompanying their own dates to the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre for a short jaunt into a single woman’s predicament. There is strong language, and Walker’s activities contain adult situations, so caution is recommended when considering bringing young people to the show. The play also does not contain an intermission. The production is a fundraising event for the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre’s LISD scholarship fund, making Bad Dates an easy way to contribute to a good cause and experience an amusing and unique play.
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
160 West Main Street
Limited run through August 25th
Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 3:00 pm.
This show is a LISD graduate scholarship benefit – all tickets are $25.00
For more information, visit www.glct.org. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 972-221-SHOW (7469).