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A CurtainUp Review
#DateMe: An OkCupid Experiment
By Lauren D’Errico
Created by Robyn Lynne Norris, this is the part-scripted-part-improv retelling of her experience on OkCupid— not searching for love, but instead trying to understand what exactly makes a successful online dating profile. It all begins when Robyn, an up-and-coming comedian (portrayed by he spirited Kaitlyn Black) finds that her backup plan to marry her gay "BFF" goes awry when he gets into another relationship and she decides to put herself out there and online date.
When she finds her real personality to be unclickable she begins her experiment: Instead of searching for love trying to understand what exactly makes a successful online dating profile. To do so she s creates thirty-eight OkCupid profiles for a ridiculous range of characters, tracking who got responses, who didn’t, and what it all might mean to the people behind those screens.
We first meet a chorus of lab coat-clad "doctors" (Chris Alvarado, Jonathan Gregg, Eric Lockley, Megan Sikora, and Liz Wisan). They ask the audience what men and women lie about on their dating profiles, then breakinto a song and dance number. The Cat Lover’s page she makes turns out to be surprisingly popular. In the guise of her aliases, she won’t leave anyone hanging, lead anyone on, and definitely won’t meet anyone in person.
Robyn's online profiles Include a Cuban dancer who doesn’t want to play games, a nightlife fanatic who loves appetizers, and a man who wants to be married. . . right now. They range from the hyper specific to the broad, but all do acome from real profiles Norris encountered on the site and to whom #DateMe inttroduces us for the show's two hour run time. The characters are on stage long enough for the audience to recognize the archetype, but are replaced before the laughter dies down.
While all of the possible stereotypes of online behavior are exhausted, the show does at times gets lost in the minutia of these portrayals. This prioritizes the conceit over character development for Robyn.
We do learn that Robyn has abandoned her life to fully commit to her self-appointed role as OkCupid Scientist . Though her mother and best friend keep calling, she ignores them. She also keeps trying to make her own profile to no avail. But there just isn't enough time spent with Robyn to really understand how all this affects her on a personal level. It's therefore difficult to become invested in her more than the show’s jokes.
The digital and improvised components that precede the opening of the piece invite the audience to download the #DateMe app to follow along with the show. Characters on the stage "message" audience members, and audience profiles are broadcast and scrutinized by the company. The company also brings single audience members onto the stage for matchmaking and dramatic reenactments of bad dates, and surveys real life online dating success stories. These improvised moments were great fun and brought the most laughs to the house. (Audience members who might have been hesitant to join in before were scrambling to download the app at intermission).
#DateMe ends on a tender note for Robyn, a double-punch of her first moment of real honesty on stage as well as a revelation. The unexpectrd vulnerability is in keeping with the tone of the show and leads into a freestyle rap. Still, the hard right turn from satire to sentimentality leaves one with a sense of disconnection as the lights come up.
#DateMe is a comedic and complicated view of online dating through one woman’s real lens. While the attention to that detail in both the script and the performance is the most endearing part of the production, it certainly makes a case for the online dating cynic who may not be looking to have their mind changed just yet.
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#DateMe: An OKCupid Experiment
Book by Robyn Lynne Norris, Bob Ladewig , Frank Caeti.
Music by Julie Nichols, Dan Wessels.
Lyrics by Robyn Lynne Norris, Frank Caeti, Amanda Blake Davis, Bob Ladewig.
Directed and choreographed by Lorin Lattarro.
Cast: Kaitlyn Black; also Chris Alvarado, Jonathan Gregg, Eric Lockley, Megan Sikora, Liz Wisan. Jillian Gottlieb, and Jonathan Wagner.
Scenic Design: David L. Arsenault
Costume Design:Vanessa Leuck Lighting Design: Travis McHale
Sound Design:Kevin Heard
Projection and inter connectivity design: Sam Hains
Music Director: Jonathan Mastro
Running Time: 2 hours, including one intermission.
Westside Theatre Downstairs 407 W. 43rd St.
From 6/20/19;openint 7/21/19 closing 9/07/19
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday @8pm, Saturday @2pm and 8pm, Sunday @3pm.
Reviewed by Lauren D'Errico at June 29th press preview
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