Dream of Me
nytheatre.com review by James Comtois
May 28, 2009
After lamenting to the audience about how terrible and destructive relationships are, a woman hops on the L train and makes brief eye contact with a stranger. There's...something...there. She wants to talk to the person, but it's too late. She's at her stop and has to leave, never getting the chance to introduce herself or even find out the stranger's name.
Later, having lunch with some friends, someone mentions the "Missed Connections" page on Craigslist, filled with posts from young singles dealing with the situation she just experienced on the train and trying to track down that elusive person they recently met. Sure enough, she later checks out the site, and lo and behold, the attractive stranger has posted a bulletin trying to find her! Does she respond? Of course not: she giggles, and then shuts off her computer.
This is the very familiar world we're given in Dream of Me, a show presented by Mainspring Collective featuring several small, sometimes connected vignettes about singles in New York either seeking love and romance or respite from heartbreak. An ensemble cast (mostly playing unnamed characters) performs songs, dance pieces, short scenes, and semi-vaudevillian-style sketches dealing with breakups, hookups, and the early stages of dating. For the most part, the characters in Dream of Me are trying to avoid the pains inherent to being romantically involved with someone, but wind up getting caught up in the game in spite of themselves.
Alexandria LaPorte's script, inspired by Charles Mee's Fetes de la Nuit, acknowledges that New York is paradoxically both a vibrant city with countless energetic and attractive young singles as well as a very isolating town where it's damn near impossible to make long-lasting connections with people. A glut of options for contacting people (cell phones, texting, email, Facebook pages) has made it more difficult to get in touch with others. A plethora of options in the city for mates and outings has also made it impossible for people to truly know what they're looking for in a relationship.
Some bits that I particularly enjoyed include a scene where a woman is waiting with increased intensity for a text message from a new boyfriend, another woman feeling crushing pain from an ex-boyfriend's relationship status on his Facebook page (revealing a truly new phenomena young singles must face), and an old man offering a walking tour of all his past ex-girlfriends and how they helped shape his relationships with other women.
There's also a particularly poignant conversation, between two women who have broken up where one of them realizes too late that she wants the other back, that many in the audience may find all too familiar. Another man delivers a monologue about how he feels he's dying inside now that his girlfriend has dumped him and moved on, even though he admits he was emotionally cold and distant when they were together.
Under Hilary Krishnan's direction, the show has a very light and funny touch, getting the blend of humor and pathos right without being too heavy-handed. There are multimedia sections, but they're wisely used sparingly; the show favors the real people on the stage over the sporadic video scenes.
The performers in the ensemble—Laine Bonstein, Lila Green, Jimmy Juste, Shawn Rice, Richard Saudek, Amy Temple, Jenna Weinberg, and Julia Zangrilli—are all solid and engaging. Juste in particular shows some sharp comic timing in his multiple roles, especially the ones in drag (okay, so I still find dudes in wigs and dresses funny; sue me). Zangrilli is also a standout in the group: a dynamic stage presence who plays every scene she's in with grace and charm.
Ultimately, Dream of Me offers a great deal of insight and commentary on a subject 99% of New Yorkers will relate to in a very entertaining way. It's at times funny, sweet, frivolous, and poignant, but at no time is it ever false. So, if you can put down your iPhone for 80 minutes and stop worrying about why that person you met in the bar hasn't texted you back, you could do well to check out this show.