Take a break this weekend and enjoy some original theater, whether a new production at Edge or a musical that unwraps the mysteries of romance. Keep reading for capsule reviews of two productions now around town.
First Date: A Musical Comedy. Casey and Aaron have been set up on a crucial first date at a restaurant, even though they seem mismatched: He’s a serious guy with a steady job in finance who hates blind dates; she’s what he eventually terms — though having uttered the term, he hastily retreats from it — a “blind-date slut.” He wears a suit; she’s in ripped leggings and has some vaguely defined job at a gallery. Like all human beings, both are dogged by their pasts and the people in them — friends, previous lovers, parents — and all of these characters appear during the evening to berate, confuse or encourage the couple. For Casey, it’s sister Lauren who’s most persistent; Lauren has children and a nice stable marriage — a status both sisters see as ultimately desirable — and she wants the same for Casey. But Lauren’s not nearly as persistent as Allison, the bossy, manipulative woman Aaron almost married. Casey has a gay best friend who provides a handful of bail-out calls over the evening — though she soon decides she doesn’t want to be bailed out. She’s also distracted by the memory of a couple of bad boys she was attracted to, the kind of guys good girls always want to save. The topics touched on in the script aren’t very original — commitment phobia, the ticking biological clock, female self-consciousness about eating on a first date (will he think less of her if she tears into a burger?), wild girl versus repressed businessman. Does Aaron actually care about corporate finance? Is Casey really into anything arty, aside from her cunningly slit tights? If they felt more like real people, we’d care more about whether they connect or not. Still, the show works because of the talent on stage, and should be a perfect date for anyone wanting to slip off their shoes under the table, sip a cocktail, and recover from a taxing day at work. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through April 22 at the Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, denvercenter.org. Read the review of First Date: A Musical Comedy.
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Resolutions. For the final Edge production of 2017, artistic director Rick Yaconis commissioned a new work by Josh Hartwell, known around Denver for his acting and directing skills as well as his writing abilities. Yaconis asked for something seasonal, but not clichéd or sentimental, and he also wanted the piece to feature new year’s resolutions. Hartwell obliged — but not in the way anyone who knows his subtly intelligent performances or the sensitive, layered productions he directs would have anticipated. Turns out this civilized, literate artist has the soul of a splattershock jock. The action is set in Vail, where some friends have congregated to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Dellen is an ex-dancer, and the well-appointed home in which they’ve gathered, with its antler chandelier and pseudo-rustic decor, comes courtesy of her rich ex-husband. She’s waiting for her young ski-instructor lover, Trevor. There’s affectionate joking between Dellen and her warm-spirited longtime friend Greg, who is grieving the end of his relationship with his husband. Enter Mindy and Peter, owners of a pot shop. Peter is stoned, and he delivers to his stunned and silent friends a monologue as long and incomprehensible as Lucky’s in Waiting for Godot — though you’re wasting your time if you search it for deep meaning. When an intruder erupts onto the scene, the civilized comedy transforms into a cross between the satiric horror of a movie like Scream or Student Bodies and a seriously murderous Stephen King story. Blood spurts. Terror and torture reign. The tone of the play begins to balance, sometimes a touch uneasily, between laughter and repulsion. And the result is a swift, funny, clever, 85-minute holiday treat. Presented by the Edge Theater Company through December 31, 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood, 303-232-0363, theedgetheater.com. Read the review of Resolutions.
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