Sunday, October 20, 2013

Playing with the Borrowed Boyfriend

This is what it's come to: asking permission to go out with someone else's boyfriend.

I had tickets for a play and no one to go with, so I did the only logical thing - asked a friend (who had to work tonight) for a loan.

Before long I heard from the boyfriend. "Sounds great. Which show? Can I treat you to dinner beforehand?"

Well, that was easy. Sure can.

We originally planned to got to Bistro 27 because of its proximity to the November theater, but they were full up so we ended up instead at Avenue 805, a place I hadn't eaten in probably four years.

They had the front door propped open, which I appreciated, and all the ceiling fans on, which I did not.

Rather than be the one to ask them to lower the wind velocity, I waited until another woman sat down and she immediately asked for them to be turned off. Well played, I thought.

Given the recent chill, I began with one of tonight's soups, a French onion with a peppery, dark broth and no cheese on top.

For old times' sake, I ordered the SSC cakes of shrimp, scallops and crab with lemon dill aioli over a mixed green salad.

I wasn't expecting two cakes, I wasn't expecting them to be as flat as pancakes and I wasn't expecting them to be without any discernible lumps of shrimp, scallops or crab.

The borrowed boyfriend was a good date, asking me questions about my dating life and recent work while supplying his own colorful stories so that the conversation never really lagged.

As a fellow dessert lover, we had high hopes for a sweet course after our so-so meals, but our nice but tentative server said there was only one: bread pudding.

I don't care if the restaurant is for sale, that's an appalling showing for dessert, so we opted out.

Then it was onward to the theater to see Cadence Theater's production of "Good People."

My considerate date tried to make up for the dessert fiasco by offering to buy me some candy when he went to get wine and I succumbed when I spotted Rolos.

After taking our seats in the tiny black box theater, we sat back to enjoy a play that won a New York Drama Critics award and was nominated for a Tony award for Best Play.

If you're going to borrow a date, better to borrow him for something good.

The story was set in a blue-collar neighborhood in South Boston and began with Margie, played with depth and grace by Dawn Westbrook, getting fired from her job at the Dollar Store.

As her boss is trying to fire her, she informs him everyone thinks he's gay. Why, he asks. "Cause you go to bingo a lot," Margie says to the first big laughs of the evening.

Worried that she and her adult, mentally-challenged daughter will end up on the street, like former classmate Cookie who died on the sidewalk and no one noticed for two days, Margie visits an old flame who's now a doctor, in hopes of finding work.

Before she goes, her friend Jean, played to wise-cracking perfection by feather-haired Jacquie O'Connor, suggests she tell him her daughter is his.

"I could just pull a Maury Povich on his ass!" Margie squeals with delight.

It was the second act when Margie visits the doctor at his home in a tony neighborhood and meets his much younger, black wife that she begins to lie about the paternity of her daughter in hopes of getting financial help.

But not before getting a lesson in fancy cheeses ("The worse they smell, the better the cheese")  and finding out what a "push" present is (think childbirth reward).

That scene, the heart of the play, had the audience alternately laughing and gasping as the three of them say and hear things better left unsaid and heard.

Katrinah Carol Lewis played the wife, conveying the entitlement of a privileged upbringing, the pain of a spouse who had been hurt repeatedly and the fire of a fierce and devoted mother to her own daughter.

Even though it was opening night, the cast was on point, even skillfully changing the elaborate sets (for so small a space) in a timely manner so that just as the song clip ended, the actors took their places, every picture hung, every newspaper folded.

"Good People" was about how each of us determines our life by the choices we make while fate occasionally steps in and throws us a curve ball.

Yet again, Cadence has chosen a compelling, new play, filled it with strong actors and left the audience to absorb the fireworks.

As a theater friend enthused as we were walking out, "Wow, what did we just see?"

We saw a play where theater reflects life with lines like, "Cause what guy could resist a middle-aged lady in Goodwill clothes?"

Hopefully none, although, for the record, my ensemble came from Diversity Thrift, not Goodwill.

My loaner date was too impressed with the play to even notice.

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