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Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010

Neil Haven’s Unique, Satisfying ‘Playdaters’

Theater Review

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Neil Haven’s The Playdaters is a refreshingly unique show that mixes drama with comedy and commercial elements with experimental aesthetics. Spencer (playwright Haven) and Erwin (Jeremiah Munsey) play a game in which they challenge each other to perform various activities while on dates with women they meet through the Internet. Spencer, for example, challenges Erwin to try to get a date (Karen Estrada) to touch him 20 times while speaking entirely in a German accent.

Spencer’s loyalty to the game is called into question when he finds a beautiful young woman (Elizabeth Shipe) who is exactly his type and decides to go on a “real” date. Haven builds enough rhythm to make a sudden, genuine date seem comically awkward. The comedy is as interesting as the drama at times, but in a one-hour show there isn’t enough time to fully develop either element. Overall, however, The Playdaters satisfies.

The Playdaters,which ended its one-weekend run in Milwaukee, continues at the Chicago Fringe Festival through Sept. 5.