Dating Depression and Dirtbags…A Love Story
nytheatre.com review by Patrick McCormick
June 20, 2012
Dating, Depression and Dirtbags: A Love Story is a one-woman show written and performed by Elza Zagreda (Corn Bread and Feta Cheese, Letters from Kosovo) and directed by Joan Kane (one of nytheatre.com’s People of the Year, 2011). In this show Zagreda takes the audience on a one hour journey into a past relationship and the aftermath. It’s a journey that includes marriage, divorce, cheating, pole dancing, vengeful yoga and hot cocoa with Irish Cream. While the show is about an actual heartbreaking experience, Zagreda manages to find and share the humor of it to her audience.
The focus of the show is Zagreda’s marriage to a person she refers to as Dirtbag, or DB, in order to protect his identity as well as for legal reasons. If you couldn’t tell by the title of the show, the marriage goes south after Zagreda learns of her husband’s infidelity and the aftermath.
As soon as Zagreda steps on stage with her plastic tiara and tutu skirt she immediately owns the stage and her space. The stage in which she shares her story has a variety of props strewn about, such as a bottle of Irish Cream, a feather boa and a passport. While Zagreda does make use of these props she does not overuse them and instead relies on her abilities as a natural storyteller to draw the audience into her past. There is music in the show, mostly modern pop songs, which in my opinion didn’t need to be included (except during the strip club scene) and at times was intrusive.
Zagreda uses humor to tell her story, but at times the humor seemed to be forced. As an audience member what resonated with me was not when she would try to make the audience laugh, but instead it was during the genuinely sincere moments of heartbreak she shared on stage. Knowing that these experiences actually happened to Zagreda, I felt more of a connection toward her as an audience member then when she tried to make us laugh. Some of the humor also made it hard to decipher fact from dramatized fiction. Not to say this show isn’t funny, because it is. Zagreda, while dealing with the heartbreak of her ordeal, does manage to find the humor in real life situations.
Zagreda goes back and forth doing very funny and very believable portrayals of her friends and family. I’ve never met the people she portrays, but I can tell that her portrayals are spot-on.
The show is written in two parts, before the divorce and after the divorce. Zagreda spends a good portion of the show discussing her husband DB and her past relationship with him. It almost seemed as though too much time is spent discussing pre-divorce and not enough time telling us about her dating experience afterwards. However I think this is intentional. In my opinion the show is not about the New York City dating scene, but more about the process of healing.
Through all the humor and heartache, Zagreda seems to be telling us how invaluable friends and family are when is comes to healing from absolute heartbreak. I for one enjoyed the show and encourage anyone who has been the unfortunate victim of their own DB (and who hasn’t at one point or another?) to see the show.