By Joanne M. Choi
After a 15-year hiatus, the Huntington Theatre Company brought Bad Dates back to Boston. This one-woman comedy is written by Theresa Rebeck, directed by Jessica Stone, and features Haneefah Wood (Cassandra in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Huntington and Blanche in Fox TV’s “Grease Live!”) as Haley Walker. Haley is an attractive 30-something African American female, single mom, a restaurant manager, and a shoe-ista.
During the 90-minute play, we see a stylish New York City bedroom outfitted with ample closets and a private bathroom. There is a vanity, hardwood floor, floor length mirror, and boxes of shoes everywhere. Something about this fly on the wall vantage point lets the audience get to know Haley quickly; we see her before and after dates and listen to all the details. Haneefah plays Haley with the right mix of feisty, humorous, confident, and vulnerable.
According to Haneefah, she finds a kinship with Haley: “I relate a lot to Haley. She loves to tell a good story and so do I. Here is a woman doing the best she can…succeeding in some areas of her life and putting her best foot forward in others. She’s confident, insecure, funny, complex and she loves her daughter. I believe I can be confident, insecure, complex and I love my family!”
In Haley, we see a woman who on paper looks like she has it all, but she has to admit to herself that she wants to put herself out there, find someone, and it’s not easy.
“I think it’s always hard to put yourself out there for love. It’s risky…it’s all lessons,” said Haneefah.
Even in the era of swipe left and right and widespread social media, finding that special someone seems to be just as anxiety-ridden as 15 years ago. The recovery process needed after a bad date is something any audience member can relate to. Perhaps the audience is laughing at themselves too when Haley relates her experiences.
“I have had older women as well as younger women come up to me after the show and tell me that they could relate. The play is resonant because it crosses the age line, race line, and gender line. It hits everybody,” shares Haneefah.
It’s hard not to root for Haley. She can be impulsive and starting over can seem easier than facing the situation face first. But, life makes her face it.
Haneefah described it best when she said, “Haley’s life has made for some good stories. She comes out at the end having learned a lot about herself and what she’s willing to accept. She’s healthy, her kid is happy and healthy, and she might even get to hang out with a guy who tickles her fancy. What more can you ask for from life? I mean, I’m sure you can ask for more, but that’s pretty good.”
Bad Dates has been extended through March 3, 2018, and tickets start at $25.
Visit the Huntington Theatre Website for more info!