Dates @ Tesseract Theatre Company

Another of the new plays done by Tesseract
Theatre Company in their 2019 Festival of New Plays is Dates, by Elizabeth Breed Penny. The title is a little ironic, because Caroline
doesn’t have dates. She doesn’t leave her apartment. She’s agoraphobic. She’s divorced from a husband who abused her,
pushed her down the stairs and caused her to have a miscarriage. But he still haunts her. She sees him in her apartment. If she goes out, she might run into him there. Her best friends, Tess and Michaela, come
to help her unpack the things she’s brought from the house she sold. She meets Luke, the neighbor upstairs. A nice guy. She also puts herself on an online dating
site. She gets responses. Mostly not such nice guys when she rejects
them. One threatens to rape and kill her. Which brings back visits, hallucinatory, from
her ex-husband. And more time with her psychiatrist. As often happens, especially in dramas – plays,
movies, tv shows – things get worse before they get better. She alienates her friends, who stick by her. Michaela wants to fix her up with her cousin
Barry. Neighbor Luke is confused. One drunken passionate night, and then what? But, of course, Caroline is confused too. Somehow, and I didn’t quite follow the details,
she managed to get rid of her husband’s haunting. I don’t think it was just because I am a man,
and this is in many ways a play about a woman and her life gone wrong, that I wanted more
about the connections, especially with the husband. Why does he still exert such a hold on her? I’d like more context, so I can put it together
and stay with it. Jaz Tucker certainly made the ex-husband scarey,
with intent looks and soft words that threatened. Director Tinah Twardowski brought everyone
into the apartment, the hallucinatory husband right next to Caroline, the men on the date
site standing on the fringes of Katie Palazzola’s sketchy apartment set. Halley Robertson had an emotional and physical
marathon as Caroline, on stage almost all the time, in a strenuous battle with herself. Rachel Garrett and Laurell Stevenson, as her
friends Michaela and Tess, grew desperate at times while trying to find a way to help. Kelvin Urday’s Luke also had a rough ride
but hung on, maybe the steadiest person on the scene. Mike Wells played Michaela’s cousin Barry,
the prospective date. Robert Oberdieck and David Zimmerman played
the guys on the dating web site, very convincingly. Dorothy Labounty was the gentle psychiatrist. Cheyenne Groom designed lights, Phillip Evans
the sound. Playwright Penny crafted her play well, but
for me, it’s a little hollow at the heart.

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