Don't You Dare Love Me

Keri Healey’s new work is a collision of developing romances among forward but misdirected men and passively disinterested women from Seattle. The most assertive of the bunch, Glen (James Weidman), is from Federal Way. We’d be rooting for him if not for his total unwillingness to recognize that his budding relationship with CJ (Kristina Sutherland) isn’t budding at all. It’s not just that she’s hindered by a lack of confidence and an alcoholic brother (Chris Dietz); as she helpfully points out, “We have nothing in common.” Even in the face of such blunt admissions, neither Glen nor any of the other men are dissuaded from their attempts to base a relationship on little more than initial attraction. Tristan (Ethan Savaglio) is a hopeless romantic who convinces a bartender (Jennifer Francis) to go home with him. They share a mutual interest in sex, but not in commitment. Evan (Scott Plusquellec) spends his time in art galleries, exploring the interests of his new girlfriend, Kirk (Shannon Kipp), in hopes that she might explore his interest in having a three-way.

Dramatic standards generally dictate focusing on characters’ emotional highs and lows, but Healey has taken a risk in rejecting this convention, writing instead about the moderately upbeat and somewhat melancholy moments in singles’ lives. This works to a point. The awkward quips of a first date and the persuasion tactics of a bar pickup are pleasant enough to watch. At over two hours, though, the pleasantries start to drag. By contrast, the show’s most successful moments are the more intense—and funny—discussions between Evan and Kirk about bringing a third into the bedroom. Plusquellec and Kipp are perfect in these scenes, and I’d happily watch more of them. BRENT ARONOWITZ 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Ends. Nov. 22.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 24. Continues through Nov. 22, 2008

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