Women Like Shoes

 . . . And other revelations in the Rep's new solo show.

Bad Dates (through Saturday, Dec. 18, at Seattle Repertory Theatre; 206-443-2222) is a one-woman show about bad dates. I'm not being flippant when I suggest that you don't need to know much more than that to decide whether or not you'll elect to spend 90 minutes with Theresa Rebeck's play because, really, that's all it is: an hour and a half of one woman moaning, "God, that was a bad date." She also tries on a lot of shoes. So it's a one-woman show about bad dates and trying on shoes. If this concept appeals to you at all, you're going to have a fine evening. Haley Walker (Anne Allgood) is a restaurant manager with a 12-year-old daughter and a yen for companionship. Regaling us from a bedroom cluttered with shoes, many of which she will try on, Haley shares various anecdotes while she prepares for, and returns from, a series of disheartening would-be romantic encounters. This requires, I think I may have mentioned, the trying on of shoes. Haley is very into shoes, you see, so there are a lot of cute shoes onstage. The monologue Rebeck has provided for Haley is chatty and conversational—so chatty and conversational you'll forget it the second you hear it, much like the mundane confessions you exchange with friends at a bar or over coffee. Haley meets boors and bores and closeted gay men. There are observations like, "Men will happily have sex with people they don't like. Women won't." And there is also some nonsense involving the Romanian mob and money laundering. During the last couple of minutes, Rebeck tries to reach for significance by having Haley rattle off something dreadful about how alone we all are and how, hold tight, "We don't always know what things mean." Yes, but there are always shoes. At least Allgood lives up to her name—she doesn't make a single bad move. You just like her. Director Allison Narver has always been terrific at getting actors to have a good time, and though it beats me how she found anything of interest here, she sure communicated something to her lead. Allgood is vulnerable enough to convince you that Haley might actually be a real person, and not just a low-watt compendium of Sex and the City leftovers, yet she's suitably animated to keep Rebeck's tiresome contrivances afloat. It's a chore that Allgood makes look like no trouble at all. Narver has her a hairbreadth from musical-theater mugging without letting her step over the line. (I can't say the same for Scott Weldin's scenic design: Haley's apartment set is a skillful slice of life; the halo of light-up footwear crowning the proscenium arch is a pun too far.) As for me, I smiled a few times, laughed out loud just once, and finally looked at my watch with 30 minutes yet to go. Then again, I'm not really into shoes. swiecking@seattleweekly.com

 
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