Once, every now and then, every element necessary to take a theatrical production to the very top comes together on every level, and the result is a first-rate outcome.
That unusual phenomenon occurred Wednesday night at a preview presentation of the Lean Ensemble’s one-woman comedy “Bad Dates.”
The story by playwright Theresa Rebeck, the direction by Peggy Trecker White and the performance by featured actor — the only actor — Megan Bowers were totally on the mark. Supported impressively by the Lean Ensemble theater professionals, who saw to the scenic, costume, lighting and sound design, this production simply soared.
The script, the comic storyline eloquently crafted with extreme success by playwright Theresa Rebeck, entertained, amused and delighted. Through it all, we felt the impact of the start-to-finish creative interpretation, careful cosseting and cutting-edge attentions of director White. She clearly saw to the details of this over-the-top, theatrical experience.
The captivating story finds Bowers as Haley Walker, a divorced mother of 5-year-old Vera. Haley is an attractive just-over-30-something, hardworking, a kind of accidental restaurateur who is beginning to consider her life options. She sees her window of opportunity closing, and she determines to look squarely at her self-identified requirement for a man in her life.
It was, she pointed out, time for a re-entry into a social life that involved more than, we find out through one-way phone calls, her friend/bartender/hostess Eileen, her gay brother BJ, her mother and the staff — some questionable — at the Romanian restaurant.
It was magical. Bowers made us feel as though we all were, in a way, a new best friend who cared, who would completely understand her actions and from whom she had no secrets. In moments, we imagined we were seated in her bedroom as she shared the uncovered details of her life past, present and future. She talked and she talked and she never stopped talking as she described and delivered the events of her days; her shoes; her family and friends; her shoes again; her take on dating, marriage and love; her questionable career; a potential criminal investigation; her ups and downs ... oh, and her shoes, again.
Through it all, as Bowers changed her outfits, wiggling and struggling and yanking and smoothing, she dealt with her shoes, her wardrobe, and one time, unceremoniously gathered rejects and tidied her room.
But I have to tell you that her biggest treat to all of us was her sharing the details of her “Bad Dates” while, through it all, she continued exchanging her costumes of the day/night, brushing her hair, even brushing her teeth.
There were laughs through the evening, but I must say, Bowers very physical recounting of her efforts at trying to communicate, unnoticed, with her friend, Eileen, asking her to bail her out of an issue that arose during a very “Bad Date,” will remain in my memory for years.
Bowers is known for her improv work in New York, and she absolutely knows how to tell a fabulous story. Through the evening we began to know her even more as we recounted, in our mind’s eye, her expressions, her facial gymnastics, her dramatic — or not — entrances and exits and especially her on-stage costume changes.
Trecker-White’s top-notch direction, Rebeck’s script and the fresh, energetic, full-bodied presentation of Bowers’ point of view is first rate. What a show!
If you go
What: “Bad Dates”
When: Dec. 12-15 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 2 p.m.
Where: SoundWaves, 7 Lagoon Road
More info: 843-715-6676 or leanensemble.org