by Susan Hasho
Half Moon Bay by Dan Moyer has a pretty standard story line. Young guy meets girl in a bar, they make a plan for another encounter. They meet again, and though she’s late enough to piss him off, they hook up and go to her apartment.
The bar is the bar of a bowling alley, so the location is a little off beat. She doesn’t bowl, her coworkers do. He does but is off at the moment. And he wants her to come back next week and watch him bowl—so much for bowling details. They lightly cruise around each other, feeling for a sense of humor, asking for work details, and drink shots and beer. She has to go, she says to him, “You done alright. Now you just gotta stick the landing.” You get the jist of the way language is used in this play. It is idiosyncratic, improvisational without being trite or cute. In short these are real, albeit, lost people looking for love in a bowling bar.
The second act is a bit more focused. They meet at the bar. He appears barefoot having gambled away his new bowling shoes, and she presents him with a bowling T-shirt she has made for him. They go off to her apartment. She insists that he wash his feet, well. Having no sense of how to proceed next, she instigates a drinking game: pour 2 shots, one with water, one with vodka and mix the glasses up. Whoever gets the vodka shot, gets to be asked a personal question by the other—not truth or dare though. These two actors are fun to watch and the playwright provides enough spark and originality in the twists and turns of their conversation to keep you on board. The final twist in the plot is believable and endearing. These two have a shot (no pun intended, but there’s so much drinking—it just came out) at a future. And by the end of this play you are rooting for them to have one.
Keilly McQuail as Annie and Gabriel King as Gabe are the contemporary answer to the newlyweds in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. The times demand more savvy darkness in the patter and more alcohol in the socializing. Ms. McQuail brings a sweet and acerbic off-handed wit and Gabriel King puts a great slant on quirky. He manages to avoid all stereotypes though, and accomplishes the sweetest and most compelling dance moves—at once nerdy and romantic. Jess Chayes has directed these two very talented people with sensitivity and clarity. And playwright Dan Moyer provides newly minted and compelling language for everyone to find themselves in. Romance is not dead, it’s just different.
HALF MOON BAY runs May 12 – June 4, Thursday – Sunday at 8pm with an additional performance Wednesday, May 18 at 8pm. Lesser America at Cherry Lane Theatre is located at 38 Commerce Street (three blocks south of Christopher Street, just west of Seventh Avenue – accessible from 1 train to Christopher Street). Tickets are $18, available at 212-352-3101 or www.lesseramerica.com
Photos: Steven Pisano