I should start with an admission: I tried online dating for about four months. Conclusion: It's not for me. At 24, I don't need to be in a relationship, but my mom urged me to try online dating (more than once) and, well, at some point you don't say "no" to mom. So I signed up for OkCupid and went on a handful of dates. Most of them were just mediocre; none, thankfully, were awful. And I ended up dating one guy for about four months before breaking up because it just wasn't right. I also realized that online dating was not my thing. It's too detached and deliberate—not too mention the awful grammar I had to wade through on a daily basis, which is akin to torture for a writer.
But online dating is the world we live in—and the heart of University of Denver grad Luci Lajoie's new play. Date* (running through May 12 at Jones Theatre) is a sharp, witty, and often funny narrative about contemporary relationships. Sitting on a set adorned with just a desk, small chest of drawers, and a bottle of wine, Lajoie is the only actress. But, in a techno twist, the wall behind her often lights up with video clips of actors retelling online dating stories based on 150 interviews Lajoie conducted, as well as facts about online dating. Date* is unexpected but relatable, simple but affecting, amusing but not comical.
"The play provokes thought around the vulnerability and the journey of trying to find a partner and what that means in a world where we're highly digitized," Lajoie, 35, says. "Online dating works for some people and it's awful for others."
Props to Lajoie for highlighting Colorado talent: All of the actors in the videos are from local companies, and the play's soundtrack is by Denver singer-songwriter Ian Cooke.
Behind the Scenes: Date* is the first full-length play put on by Off-Center @ the Jones, a new(ish) theater project that serves as a testing ground for nontraditional theater (i.e. incorporating technology, featuring experimental shows) and aims to to make theater less formal and more fun and engaging, particularly for younger (read: twentysomething) audiences. Need another reason to check it out? Date* tickets are only $16.
—Images courtesy of Date* and Bonnie Arnold (top), Jennifer Davidson (left)