The premise of Theresa Rebeck’s “Bad Dates,” which is webcast by New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse, is anything but foolproof. It’s a one-act monologue delivered by Haley Walker (played by Andrea Burns), a charming and compulsively chatty restaurant manager and middle-aged single mom who owns 600 pairs of shoes, has had far too many disastrous dates for count them, but decides to try again after a long time on the shelf. Lights come on over a plush bedroom filled with shoeboxes – Haley is in the midst of a frantic search for the right pair to wear on the day she goes at the end of the night – and the action, such as it is, is that Haley tells us the labyrinthine story of her life, which includes a decisive skirmish with the Romanian Mafia and the New York Police Department. While it may sound light in the narrative, “Bad Dates” never fails to give great pleasure in the hands of an attractive actor and a strong production team, and Ms. Burns and her colleagues on George Street are everything. this and much more.
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first a few more remarks on the play, which Ms Rebeck wrote after a conversation with Julie White, who then premiered the role of Haley off-Broadway in 2003. The two got the hit. idea of making a cable TV show consisting of reenactments of actual bad dates, and Ms. Rebeck soon realized that their idea was, in fact, the makings of a solo comedy. I happen to have several friends who have reached the same stage in life as Haley, and most of the horror stories they have told me about their unhappy love lives could easily have come from “Bad Dates” almost. verbatim. Mrs Rebeck knows how to put on paper the way women talk to each other (as well as to nice men): “Things were uncomfortable, then they went from bad to worse, and by the end of the night we were. so bored of each other… We clearly didn’t love each other, and he was ready to sleep with me anyway! It was absolutely Planning above! What is this?”