Photo by Ed Krieger”Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.”
In Bad Dates, Beth Broderick's endearing and funny one-woman show at Laguna Playhouse, the audience enters a beautiful woman's bedroom to hear her rant about her godforsaken social life—which only makes her irresistible, of course. Her frenetic work schedule leaves no time for dating, she says, and the sexual frustration has her hornier than the Orange County Sheriff.
You enter the Playhouse with the lights on full and a stage full of shoes. Don't run. You'll survive the worn-out observations (can we agree that, from Imelda Marcos to Carrie Bradshaw, women's shoes are done, jokewise?), Broderick's shit-howdy Texas accent, and the fact she used to make her living as Aunt Zelda on TV's Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and you'll find yourself . . . enjoying Bad Dates. You will clap lustily—and then enter what may be the most dangerous part of your evening: the deep desire (later, over coffee) to make stupid observations about a really fine play.
YOU'LL SAY: “Now I see why it takes women so long to get ready.”
WHICH IS FAIR ENOUGH BECAUSE: Broderick's character, Haley, is constantly preparing for a date, simultaneously talking on the phone, waxing romantic on the nature of attraction, berating her daughter or changing her clothes and then changing them again. Why can't she just throw on something and be done with it? And incidentally, why choose outfits that look so whorish?
BUT IS REALLY STUPID BECAUSE: We'd like to say this is an aesthetic thing, but it's gender. Some people care much about the way they look. We'll call these people “women,” and their lackadaisical counterparts “men.” You think the woman across from you looks the way she does right now when she rolls out of the sack? Have you got any idea how she looks before an hour or two of really industrious labor on face and hair? Picture Mickey Rourke in Barfly, but wearing your favorite T-shirt and making you a cup of coffee.
YOU'LL SAY: “It's disgusting how many pairs of shoes that woman owns.”
WHICH IS FAIR ENOUGH BECAUSE: The stage is littered with more than 100 pairs of designer shoes, many of which don't fit or have gone out of style, but, says Haley, “I don't have a fetish or anything.” It's indulgent to purchase scores of designer shoes, no question, and, yes, that money would indeed be better spent on orphans or invested in Treasury bonds. To paraphrase Tolstoy, how many shoes does a human need?
BUT IS REALLY STUPID BECAUSE: We all have our vices. Some of us like prostitutes; some people will insert into their anuses only the rarest, most expensive rodents. Some people like golf. You're going to pitch a fit about shoes?
YOU'LL SAY: “She should have known better than to trust that guy.”
WHICH IS FAIR ENOUGH BECAUSE: Smitten by a nice guy, Haley fails to observe classic warning signs that he's playing around—dining far from home to avoid discovery, ambiguous talk of a former relationship going south. Women who believe men's lies deserve what they get.
BUT IS REALLY STUPID BECAUSE: Men lie to get women into bed; women lie to get men into holy matrimony; governments lie because they're governments. It's almost beautiful the way women, despite their better judgment, keep giving men the benefit of the doubt, and some of us are damn grateful. The tolerance of women keeps society running, so mock it and you're well on your way to long years of prostitutes, rodents and golf.
YOU'LL SAY: “You could see her nipples through that top!”
WHICH IS FAIR ENOUGH BECAUSE: Nips ahoy in the final scene.
BUT IS REALLY STUPID BECAUSE: If, after watching a stunning woman bare her soul to an audience for more than an hour, charming and adorable and on her own—if after all that, all you can focus on is her front-most area, you really can't dig yourself any deeper, and it may well be the only nip you see.
BAD DATES AT LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE, 606 LAGUNA CANYON RD., LAGUNA BEACH, (949) 497-2787. TUES.-FRI., 8 P.M.; SAT., 2 N 8 P.M.; SUN., 2 P.M.; ALSO THURS., SEPT. 29, 2 P.M. THROUGH OCT. 16. $20-$59.