#39. Right out of college, my friend Mary started dating this guy. He was in his forties, divorced, unemployed and delinquent in his child support payments. And worse to me, he just gave off a weird vibe. I didn’t understand her attraction. And I certainly didn’t trust him. I was working for the Public Defender’s office at the time. So, naturally I ran a background check. Even though he didn’t have a rap sheet, I still had my doubts.
Raven Theatre presents the world premiere of DATING WALTER DANTE. Laura is dating again. After ending a turbulent marriage, she finally met a nice guy. She really likes him. Sure, he comes with some baggage. He’s been married twice. He first wife drowned and the second one disappeared. He’s under constant surveillance by the police, the media and now her friends. Can love survive the nonstop scrutiny? Or is this another fatal attraction? DATING WALTER DANTE is just another suspected-killer-meets-girl love story twisted with humor, haunting and homicide.
From lights up, playwright Jon Steinhagen engages with a multi-angled look at the dating life of a media accused murder suspect. Local celebrity Drew Peterson would appreciate Steinhagen’s in-depth and thoughtful exploration. Steinhagen lets the characters narrate the memory play. Laura tells it as a love story. The 1st wife gives it a supernatural vibe. The detective brings a he-done-it attitude. And the friends interject some madcap comedy. And Walter keeps it mysterious as a victim of interpretation.
Under the direction of Cody Estle, scenes meld into the next. The dialogue is witty and natural. The banter between Kristin Collins (Laura) and Brigitte Ditmars (Suzanne) is perfectly hilarious best friend ‘don’t judge‘ chitchat. Collins is blindly dating a suspected killer. Collins plays it forcefully romantic and confident. It’s hard for me to completely connect to her character but I do know women who would pursue this guy. Ditmars is much easier to relate to. She tries to keep an open mind but she’s also concerned. If Lucy and Ethel got married, they would be Ditmars and Michael Boone (Harper). Ditmars and Boone cue the laughtrack with their screwball antics. Their person of interest is Jason Huysman (Walter). Huysman plays it amicable and understated. His normal stance teases out conflicting empathy in me. The entire talented cast piece this puzzle together with a flair for bemusement and amusement.
Isn’t a man innocent until proven guilty? Or does that really matter when he’s dating your friend? DATING WALTER DANTE is something to see but I’m still not certain if it’s something to do.
Production photograph courtesy of Dean LaPrairie.
Running Time: Ninety minutes with not intermission
At Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark
Written by Jon Steinhagen
Directed by Cody Estle
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm
Sundays at 3:30pm
Thru March 24th
Buy Tickets at www.raventheatre.com