I have a friend whose messages on my answering machine invariably begin, “I guess you’re out at some nightclub.” Contrary to widespread opinion, I don’t see everything the same night it opens. In fact, I didn’t get to Playwrights Horizons’ production of Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates until yesterday afternoon–the very last performance. It took me long enough, but I’m glad I finally made it.
The play itself is no great shakes, a sort of monositcom about a no-longer-young single mom who plunges back into the dating scene after long absence. What made it special was Julie White’s performance as Haley, the ditsy, doe-eyed jolie laide of a certain age whose tales of woe occupy an unchallenging but agreeable hour and a half. That’s a long time to hold an audience, especially without an intermission, but White pulled it off with breathtaking ease. In an odd sort of way, the very slightness of the material made it easier to concentrate on her acting, which was so natural and transparent that you just know she sweat blood over it. She was alive from top to toe–I could write a hundred words about the way she used her feet. Too bad you can’t go see her (though maybe you already did, and I’m the last person in town to catch up with her), but I’m sure she’ll be back on stage any minute now, and next time around I’ll catch her first night instead of her last afternoon.