By Megan Quinn
Freelance Writer, Team-OFF Member (Off-Center’s External Committee)
What happens when one woman discovers online dating and becomes addicted to the rush?
The result is DATE*, the world premiere play presented by Off-Center @ the Jones. Incorporating real-life interviews with more than 100 people, Denver-based writer Luciann Lajoie weaves her own tales of the online dating world with those who have weathered disaster dates, finding the one and everything in between.
Lajoie’s one-woman performance is just one of the multimedia offerings from Off-Center, whose first season has so far included shows with improv based on movie moments, Johnny Cash cover bands and audience-powered butter-churning.
Curators Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin call Off-Center “theater that feels like a night out.”
The Jones strives to incorporate audience participation and out-of-the-box performances to capture the next generation of audiences who like theater with a dose of the unexpected. Themed costumes, drag queen hostesses, live Twitter feeds and impromptu after-show dance parties are some of the ways Off-Center invites audience interaction before, during and after the show.
The Off-Center recipe also aims to compliment The Denver Center’s diverse theater and music offerings by acting as an entry point for new artists who might not otherwise show their work at the Denver Center Theatre Company. At the same time, The Jones targets adventurous, predominantly younger audiences who normally would not attend mainstage productions.
Shows such as a hip hop history dance show and a rowdy baseball game played entirely on a Wii set the tone for The Jones’ initial prototypes last year.
Miller and Tarquin have an eye for irreverent humor, diverse stories and fresh takes on traditional and pop culture.
DATE*, Lajoie’s first play, fits the bill.
After going on a marathon string of first dates, Lajoie admitted her online dating encounters had “hijacked her life.” At first tempting and accessible with just a wireless connection, Lajoie soon discovered online dating was much more complicated than she originally thought. The hilarious, perplexing and cringe-worthy occurrences led to the framework for DATE*’s script.
Lajoie had her own stories to work with, but she also wanted to widen the conversation. So, tape recorder in hand, Lajoie interviewed over 100 people of every age, background and religion to see how their own online dates had fared.
Set to a soundtrack from local musician Ian Cooke, DATE* features Lajoie live onstage along with video projections of some of her best interviews. The stories feature people who have been fooled by Photoshop, intimidated by their first encounters and puzzled by dating rituals. Amid the ups and downs of dating life, DATE* asks audiences, “do you believe in love at first site?”
Audiences can share their own dating stories—from the horrific to the heartwarming— through Lajoie’s website or follow updates of her own story on Twitter @datetheplay.
Catch performances of DATE* 8pm, Fridays & Saturdays, April 20 - May 12. DATE* takes place at Off-Center @ The Jones, located on the edge of The Denver Center at the corner of Speer and Arapahoe.
DATE* is written and performed by Luciann Lajoie, with creative guidance by Allison Horsley, Ashlee Temple and Richard Thieriot. Curated by Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin, directed by Ashlee Temple, and produced in partnership with LuciCo, LLC.
Tickets are $16.
Off-Center @ the Jones is an offshoot of the Tony Award-winning Denver Center Theatre Company.