Arkansas Repertory Theatre
“Bad Dates,” by Theresa Rebeck, is a fun, lively and clever play about a single mom’s attempt to balance her career and deal with the tumultuous and unpredictable dating scene in New York.
From the title of the play and the advertising, one might think this production at the Rep’s small Second Stage would only be appealing to women. However, “Bad Dates” presents views that both women and men share. It is presented from a woman’s perspective, but the concepts about relationships are two-sided.
The play’s sole actress, Mary Proctor, gives a splendid performance, creating a character that conveys a goofy, fun-loving lady as well as a vulnerable, protective mother.
The entire action of the show takes place in the bedroom of Haley Walker, a waitress who was recently promoted to restaurant manager, practically falling into the position due to the previous owner’s trouble with the IRS. The recent divorcee is now a successful business woman with an impressive collection of shoes.
As she shows off her vast assortment of fabulous high heels, Haley frankly tells the audience private details about her life. The first impression of character is that she is just another ridiculous Carrie Bradshaw type from “Sex and the City,” but as the plot unfolds we see a strong and thoughtful woman emerge.
Proctor does a fine job downplaying the ditzy aspects of Haley Walker by presenting her as easygoing and charming. The intimate space and the actress’ direct eye contact with each audience member not only intensifies the theatrical experience, but makes the audience feel quite comfortable. Every now and then Walker will direct a question toward the audience, making it almost feel as if the audience is on a date with the performer. Near the end the plot takes a rather unexpected, serious turn, but the outcome is well worth the wait.
Whether you are out with a group of friends or on a date, “Bad Dates” will be a guaranteed awkward-free evening. The play continues through March 13. Call 378-0405 for ticket information and showtimes.