[53] THE PLAYDATERS (Matchbox Theatre Project): Fringe review

Griffin Stanton-Ameisen and Sean Bradley star in Matchbox Theatre Project’s THE PLAYDATERS (Photo credit: Lens Spark Photography) Fringe review

Griffin Stanton-Ameisen and Sean Bradley star in Matchbox Theatre Project’s THE PLAYDATERS by Neil Haven (Photo credit: Lens Spark Photography)

More bromance than rom-com, with an outrageously funny and scathing commentary on the lingering immaturity and adolescent fixations of America’s Gen Y, Neil Haven’s THE PLAYDATERS exposes the interpersonal ineptitude and emotional distancing inherent in the so-called “social” media of our post-modern age. Erwin (Sean Bradley) and Spencer (Griffin Stanton-Ameisen) are BFF roomies who live in a frat-style hovel with an overturned beer-filled fridge as a coffee table. They keep a running score on a whiteboard of their competition to see how badly they can behave on first dates they’ve arranged through an online matchmaking site, and how long the unsuspecting women who meet them will tolerate their clownish antics.

Bradley and Stanton-Ameisen are uproarious as they move in and out of their staged dates into directly addressing the audience and each other with the snap of their fingers and the ease of logging on and off of their digital devices, as they comment on their faux situations and analyze their own questionable attitudes. Dana Kreitz is terrific as the series of unwitting women who fall prey to their pranks, and Clare O’Malley rounds out the cast as Lydia, Spencer’s one real date who proves to be as juvenile, looks-conscious, and commitment-phobic as the guys, leaving us with her sophomoric belief that only a troll is suited for a serious long-term relationship. Though the rapid-fire hilarity of the first half begins to lose some steam toward the end of the play, the early one-liners and non-stop laughs transition into thought-provoking messages about dysfunctional friendships, male-female dynamics, and the twenty-somethings’ resistance to growing up. [Plays & Players, Skinner Studio], September 17-22, 2013, http://fringearts.ticketleap.com/the-playdaters.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.