The 12 days of Christmas become transformed in this one-woman monologue into The 12 Dates of Christmas. Mary, played by Lara Toner Haddock, makes a hash of the twin holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas in this tale of love, both lost and found.
The production, directed by Cyndi Williams, checks a lot of boxes. Haddock gives us an outstanding portrayal of Mary, who discovers her fiancé has cheated on her. She comes to this realization in a novel way, by seeing him with another woman at the televised Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. As in all previous years, she has fled NYC to avoid the crowds, choosing instead to watch the parade on TV from a safe distance with her family, including her Mother. This gives us a psychological insight into Mary, whose inability to find a husband is perhaps not too surprising. Flight and distance are her thing.
Once her engagement comes to an end, the comic adventure begins, seeing Mary engage in 12 dates over the ensuing year, only to end up finding love of a different sort in the most unexpected way. Along the way Haddock assumes the guise of various characters, such as her Mother, sister and her nosy aunt. With great artistic aplomb the actress exudes sadness, empathy, anger and comical humour. Being a one-woman show, she in on stage the entire time, with only the briefest pauses for a sip of water.
One is left with a warm and fuzzy feeling at the conclusion of the 75-minute production, being performed at the Baptist Church on 9th Street in downtown Austin. The 12 Dates is the perfect tonic for those who are a bit weary of the whole T-Day/Christmas thing, but not ready to go all the way into full Grinch or Scrooge mode. A very fine play indeed! This is being staged by Austin Playhouse, which used to have space in a shopping mall (for those who remember the pre-Covid days).
It is being played again Dec. 18 and 20, with streaming on Demand available from Dec. 20 thru 26. Visit the website for tickets to this delightful play, written by Ginna Hoben: www.austinplayhouse.com
Article written by Sharon Williams and Cliff Cunningham