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BWW Review: HI, ARE YOU SINGLE? at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Hi, Are You Single? is perfect pandemic viewing.

BWW Review: HI, ARE YOU SINGLE? at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Ryan Haddad's one man show Hi, Are You Single?, currently available to stream from Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, is perfect pandemic viewing. Sure, the show focuses on aspects of dating that feel like a fantasy right now-flirting in a gay club, dancing with a stranger, or even just meeting someone new. But instead of feeling like an unwelcome reminder of all of the things we've lost, the show's generous exploration of intimacy and vulnerability arrives like a breath of fresh air.

Ryan has cerebral palsy, which has complicated his attempts to find a boyfriend. He explores the rejection and discrimination he has faced in the gay community with equal parts pathos, humor, and frustration. Ryan is captivating on stage. His charm allows the audience to laugh along with him at his desperate flirting (the name of the show comes from the pick up line he deployed while sitting by the bathroom at a club) and experience his heartbreak when his romantic hopes are dashed.

Ryan's matter-of-fact attitude about his own desire makes for compelling and funny confessional theatre. It's also hugely different from the way we normally see disabled people represented, as infantilized, sexless characters. While I have a different condition than Ryan, I am also disabled. The casual way that he discusses his walker, the accommodations he needs during sex, and the way that he navigates public space delighted me. There is real joy in finding an authentic representation of your own experience, and Ryan delivers it with aplomb.

Even if you don't share any of Ryan's life experience, there will be things in Hi, Are You Single? that move you. When Ryan invited one of the socially distanced, masked audience members (made up of the show's crew and design team) up on stage to dance with him, I found myself crying. As the two men talked as they slow danced, I couldn't help but be soothed. Maybe it was the excellent production value of the way that moment was filmed; maybe it was the momentary intimacy between performer and audience. But whatever it was, it brought back something of the magic of live theatre for me.

Ultimately, the show's greatest strength is that Ryan refuses to let himself off easy. He eventually turns his examination of the men that rejected him in on himself and discovers that he does not always posses the empathy he craves from others. This feels revolutionary on so many levels. We don't often see a disabled person allowed to grow this way on stage. And we don't often see, especially right now, such an honest exploration of compassion. In our brave new pandemic world, that exploration feels more important than ever.

Hi, Are You Single? is available to stream from Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company through February 28, 2021. Captioning and audio description are available. You can get your ticket here.

Photo credit: Lawrence E. Moten III


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