Review: 30 Dates – Fenstar Productions

By Crystal Wood

Fenulla Jiwani brings popular play back to Toronto until June 12th

Before I write this review for Fenstar Productions’ 30 Dates, being remounted at the Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs, let me allow for a little disclosure.

I am a 30-something single woman. My partner for the show, Joanne, is also a 30-something single woman. The main character of 30 Dates is, yup, a 30-something single woman.

We figured the show could go two ways. Either we would find the play to be entertaining, funny and relatable, or we would leave feeling like a sad societal joke ready to just give up and head for the convent.

Thankfully we found it to be the former, so the convent can wait!

30 Dates is really funny, better than the latest Katherine Heigl schlock in theatres. We found ourselves laughing out loud several times at the variety of bad dates the main character, Priti, found herself on.

Six actors take turns playing Priti’s 30 dates, and pretty much cover every bad or embarrassing dating experience you could imagine. My favourite was the old guy that Priti meets online who looks nothing like his 20-year-old profile photo. (I’ve been there.) Joanne’s favourite was the guy who needed to take Priti home to his parents because he hasn’t come out of the closet yet. (Haven’t been there, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!)

Despite her run of bad luck, Priti remains optimistic that love is out there, and without giving away too much detail, the open ending felt like a good choice by Jiwani (who not only wrote the script, but also plays Priti.)

If there was anything to improve upon in 30 Dates, it was that I kind of found myself wishing there was more backstory. We don’t find out much about the first 15-some years of Priti’s dating life, and there seems to be a missed opportunity to delve into the “Masala twist” of why her South Asian family and community’s pressure is so important. Fortunately, the show moves along so quickly it doesn’t affect the overall enjoyment.

When I asked Joanne if there was anything she didn’t like, she referred to the moment when Priti’s karaoke date (played by Husain Madhavji) came out into the audience belting “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” I believe her exact words were “I hate when they come into the audience.”

A show program that includes a CD of the theme song and a raffle are bonuses that make the night more engaging for the audience. Final verdict: grab some girlfriends and skip the line-ups at Sex and the City 2. 30 Dates says more about modern dating than Carrie and her Manolos.

Details:

– Playing June 2-12, 2010 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs, 26 Berkeley Street
– Showtimes: Wed. to Sun. at 8PM, Saturday matinee at 2PM
– General Admission: $25 in advance/ $28 at the door (Seniors / Students: $23 in advance/$28 at the door)
– Call 416-368-3110 for tickets, or visit www.fenstarproductions.com

Photo of Fenulla Jiwani plus date, by Gloria Nieto