Posts Tagged ‘westport playhouse’

The Twelve Dates of Christmas
by Ginna Hoben
Directed by Lee Anne Mathews
Westport Playhouse
November 30, 2022

Jennifer Theby-Quinn
Photo: Westport Playhouse

The Twelve Dates of Christmas isn’t a typical “feel-good” holiday show. It’s an off-beat comedy with moments of drama, showcasing a strong performance from the always excellent local performer Jennifer Theby-Quinn. In the small space at Westport Playhouse, the show is a fun, occasionally poignant look at one woman’s year following a breakup and her adventures and misadventures in dating. 

This isn’t a “family show”, considering its language and mature themes, but family figures in the story in a major way, as Mary (Theby-Quinn) finds out about her fiancé’s betrayal in a surprisingly public way, while spending time in her Ohio hometown with family for Thanksgiving.  Over the course of the performance, we hear about Mary’s parents, her exercise-loving sister, and her meddling aunt who is determined to find the “perfect man” for Mary. Over the course of the year, Mary goes through a series of dates and acting jobs in New York City, marking the various men she dates with ornaments on a large projected Christmas tree. Over the course of a little over a year, she meets a variety of men, from the “too good to be true” to the obviously wrong guys, to one or two guys with real possibilities. Mary, who is pursuing an acting career, also recounts some of her acting jobs, as well as a day job as a barista in a coffee shop. Over the year and the series of eventful and uneventful dates, Mary also makes a few new friends, including the jilted ex of one of her dates, and a five-year-old boy who plays Tiny Tim in a production of A Christmas Carol in which Mary is cast. It’s essentially a series of narrated vignettes, as Mary deals with single life in the modern world, and with difficult relatives who she cares about even though she doesn’t appreciate their meddling. 

The play is essentially a showcase for its leading performer, and Theby-Quinn is ideally cast. Adept at comedy, drama, and singing, Theby-Quinn shines as Mary, who experiences the ups-and-downs of the seasons, and the dating scene, aided by some familiar holiday music and a series of clever video projections designed by Margery and Peter Spack, and edited by Lenny Mink and Kurtis Gibbs. There’s also excellent work from lighting designer Daniel MacLaughlin and sound designer Jacob Baxley. This is a fun show for this space, as well, providing some offbeat holiday-themed entertainment and a compelling, if somewhat predictable, story. 

Even though there’s nothing especially innovative about this show, it isn’t trying to be anything but an offbeat exploration of one woman’s journey back from a bad breakup, with a holiday theme and soundtrack. Theby-Quinn proves again that she is a consummate performer, and this is a good showcase for her talents.  If you’re looking for an entertaining, funny, occasionally poignant, occasionally crass holiday show, The Twelve Dates of Christmas is worth a look. 

Westport Playhouse is presenting The Twelve Dates of Christmas until December 23, 2022

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