Play/Date OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Brian T Scott
  • Play/Date
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • THEATRE IS EASY

  • L&S AMERICA

  • EXETUNT

Opening Night:
July 15, 2014
Closing:
August 13, 2014

Theater: Fat Baby / 112 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002

Synopsis: 

Love at first sight, blind dates, late night hook-ups, and ugly breaks-ups unfold in this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience comprised of short plays inspired by the New York dating scene and set throughout Fat Baby’s three levels. Cruise the characters and grab drinks as you choose what to watch and which summer fling (or shitshow) to follow. Play/Date is an immersive and voyeuristic theatrical experience set throughout the three levels of Fat Baby, a nightclub and lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. During the performance, the lines between reality and fiction are blurred, allowing guests to view and experience the “show” as it emerges in unlikely ways from unexpected directions. After admission, guests can move around the bar, lounge and balcony – following scenes as they move or proceeding from one scene to the next.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Play/Date

    I Can’t Hear You. The Plays Are Running. ‘Play/Date,’ an Evening at a Bar About Evenings at Bars

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    July 23, 2014: For the urban eavesdropper, paradise is a place where it’s almost impossible not to overhear human drama unfolding: a park bench, a subway car, a quiet cafe. But in purgatory — a crowded nightclub, say — the roar of sound makes pantomime of strangers’ conversations. So, best of luck listening in on the many intimate one-acts that make up Play/Date, a clever and frustrating show that ponders connection and disconnection through the lens of bar-scene dating and technology. Conceived by Blake McCarty, directed and designed by Michael Counts and written by 17 playwrights, it’s staged on three levels of Fat Baby, a Lower East Side lounge. Mr. McCarty and Mr. Counts produced the show with Mr. Counts’s wife, Sharon, in collaboration with the theater company 3-Legged Dog. Intended as an immersive adventure, Play/Date is instead an obstacle-strewed exercise in thwarted acoustics, though that’s not entirely the fault of the sound designer, Marcelo Añez. Look at the space: hard surfaces everywhere, one level flowing airily into the next, no walls between them. Music plays throughout, a soundtrack to the din of the drinking, chatting, milling crowd that is the audience. Multiple plays are performed simultaneously, all contributing to, and some succumbing to, the sound bleed. Actors wear headset microphones, but even so, they may be inaudible from no more than a few feet away. Women’s voices, especially, tend to dissipate.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Play/Date

    Play/Date Theater review

    David Cote

    July 16, 2014: Dating in New York: an exercise in masochism practiced by those who lost the capacity to feel pain. Unless you happen to be irresistibly sexy or wildly undiscriminating, hooking up is hard work. We’ve all gone through some nightmare scenario: imbibing too much courage in advance, thus getting progressively blotto at the table; or your date is the one who shows up unappealingly tipsy; maybe the night drags on for an eternity, as mutual loathing builds; or it ends prematurely, thanks to a handy “emergency” text; or you’re just bored. The variations are endless, and you see many of them—augmented by social media and fluid sexual identities—in Play/Date, an environmental, prismatic survey of the modern mating game. This complex, multi-level installation—encompassing plays by 17 different writers and a cast of about 20 scattered through the Lower East Side club Fat Baby—is immersive, but not really interactive. We are instructed from the get-go to observe, not interfere, with the characters. So you can sit next to two guys flirting on a banquette, or head upstairs to ogle the topless guy and girl, and then pivot to an adorably quirky couple (she re-creates The Lion King with sock puppets).

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  • THEATRE IS EASY REVIEW OF Play/Date

    PLAY/DATE Review

    Geri Silver

    July 16, 2014: As immersive theatre continues to gain popularity in the New York theatre scene, audiences are increasingly willing to abandon traditional theatrical conventions and embrace the unknown. In the last year alone, I've seen immersive and interactive theatre turn theatergoers into wedding guests, murder detectives, funeral attendees, zombie apocalypse escapees, masked wanderers, and adventurers in Lewis Carroll's wonderland. Play/Date, a new immersive theatrical experience conceived by Blake McCarty and directed by Michael Counts, puts audience members in a more familiar space: a nightclub, where the everyday social and romantic interactions that take place provide a refreshingly entertaining landscape to explore. The evening starts out the same way many young adults start their nights -- you enter a nightclub, have your ID checked by the doorman, and are led through the dimly lit, music pumping, multi-floor Fat Baby bar to your seat. You order drinks, open a tab, and socialize with your friends and with strangers. Not unlike any night out, you notice the interactions and situations happening around you -- an awkward introductory conversation between two strangers, patrons sitting alone engrossed in their phones, a tired couple smiling at each other through gritted teeth.

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  • LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA REVIEW OF Play/Date

    Theatre in Review: Play/Date (Fat Baby)

    David Barbour

    July 17, 2014: The rage for immersive theatre reaches a new extreme with Play/Date. Pay attention, now, because this one has many facets: As the title suggests, the production takes inventory of the (very occasional) joys and (seemingly endless) woes that make up the hunt for romance in Manhattan. This being the 21st century, however, you can begin to experience the play well before you attend. On purchasing your ticket, you can log on to Facebook and Twitter to friend and follow the characters who populate the evening. Presumably, they won't waste your time with pictures of food and cat videos, like your real friends do. If, like me, you wonder when theatregoing became so difficult -- do I really have to do homework before the show begins? -- you can skip that part and show up at Fat Baby, a three-level bar on Rivington Street where Play/Date is housed. As conceived by Blake McCarty, a variety of dating dramas unfold all over the place. You are free to view them as you will: If you want to skip around, taking in bits and pieces of each brief encounter, fine. If you'd prefer to pick one and see it through before moving on to the next, no worries. I chose the latter approach.

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  • EXETUNT REVIEW OF Play/Date

    Play/Date at Fat Baby

    Rafi Mittlefehldt

    July 17, 2014: For a while, it looks like we’re in a regular pub with a regular crowd. Then a phone rings over the speakers, a light shines on a woman at the bar, and everyone goes quiet. She leaves a voicemail for Char, a date she’s expecting. Soft spotlights brighten in other parts of the pub — a couch, a booth in the back, the upstairs railing — and new characters emerge from within the crowd. Michael Counts’ Play/Date, conceived by Blake McCarty and styled as an “immersive and voyeuristic theatrical experience,” invites the audience to watch and listen in on a couple dozen one-act plays scattered throughout the Lower East Side bar, Fat Baby, each focused on some kind of relationship, from first dates to anniversaries, from hook-ups to breakups. It may take a few minutes to learn how to watch the show. With up to three plays and one or two side stories happening at the same time, it’s easy to get distracted by the urge to move around too much and try to see everything. Halfway through one story, I realized I hadn’t really taken in anything that was going on, because I was attempting simultaneously to watch two others stories happening nearby. It helps to pick one interaction, stick with it, and tune out whatever else is happening.

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