This Week in Theater
Review by Rose Desena
There is nothing more daunting than dating in the big city. I love to sit at a café or a bar and eavesdrop on a group of women discussing their dating experiences. It is a good laugh, and usually one can relate, even if you’re past all that and have decided to settle down with a partner or a pet. Gary Lennon (writer) probably finds it just as entertaining, because he chose to write a script about the experiences of two NYC gals exploring this very topic. Eve (Elizabeth Regen) is a fast talking, wise cracking NY chick with a hot body and a hunger for male attention. Her friend Mary (Dianna Aguilar) tries to talk some sense into her on a regular basis, but her opinion is never that well received. Until… yes, there is an until. However I am not going to give anything away.
The opening scene is truly hilarious and stays that way for 25 minutes. Regen is brilliant and fun to watch. Lennon is a master at good character development. He adds a comical bar-hopping loser named Donald (Dave Scotti) who takes us through the scene changes, and a bit later we meet Eve’s neighbor, a smashing and highly entertaining transvestite (Darryl Stephens). However, other than the interesting characters, the second half of the play failed to keep up with the power of the first few scenes. It dragged, and I just drifted off waiting for what was a predictable and weak ending.
I do admire Lennon for doing a romantic comedy. They are difficult. Much of the subject matter has been done. I am a fan of the genre, but it’s challenging to keep the story moving and funny without being stupid or senseless. Take the classic “Barefoot in The Park,” one of my favorites. The humor gently rocks you, creeping up unexpectedly with quick snippets that leave you wanting more. Lennon just poured it all out at once like he was in a race to get out the laughter rather than pacing it.
It’s a bit disappointing when a show has so much potential. The acting was quite good along with decent staging and some pleasurable directorial choices. However, when you front load the script with high-energy laughter, you really have nowhere else to go but keep it that way throughout. Lennon is a talented, well-established TV writer. Personally, I love one of the fresh series he writes for, “Black Box,” and he has worked on popular favorites like “Justified” and “Orange Is the New Black,” so his writing is familiar and very admirable.
Dates and Nuts did not come across as stupid or senseless; it just didn’t work for me. I think it needs a good rewrite.
Dates and Nuts
Written by Gary Lennon
Directed by Wilson Milam
Cast: Dianna Aguilar, Elizabeth Regen, Josh Randall, Dave Scotti, Darryl Stephens
Thursdays, Friday’s, and Saturdays at 7 p.m. Sundays at 2 PM, check site for exceptions.
Bootleg Theater 2220 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90057 (213) 389-3856 or www.bootlegtheater.org