Capsule Reviews

Bad Dates After you see this little one-character comic gem, you'll want to do two things: (1) go shoe shopping; and (2) be best friends with actress Julie White. In Theresa Rebeck's play, the adorable White is Haley Walker, a discombobulated restaurant manager transplanted from the Deep South to Midtown Manhattan. She's divorced, a mother of a teenager. She's also itching to date dishy new men, if only she could meet some. Instead, she goes on a series of awful assignations, clueing us in before and after each one to all the heartbreaking details. And the shoes? She has hundreds, strewn about her bedroom like high-heeled runes, each with a story to tell. When she caresses her cheek with a beloved pair of Chanel pumps, it's a gesture every well-shod woman understands. Directed by John Benjamin Hickey, only 90 minutes long and filled with big laughs, this is the perfect "date play." Extended through February 6 at Dallas Theater Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., 214-522-8499. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

Freedomland Ironic title for a play that makes the audience feel like hostages. Amy Freed's lengthy, verbose script about a wildly neurotic family of super-smart grown-ups is intended to be comedy, so why isn't Echo Theatre's production funnier? Big sister (Ellen Locy) paints portraits of hobo clowns for a living. Little sis (Molly Milligan) can't finish her Ph.D. thesis on the women of The Iliad. Brother (Joey Oglesby) is a scary survivalist with a penchant for bomb-making. Dad is a retired classics prof who wanders around like a shell-shock victim. The only fun one of the bunch is the stepmom (Gail Cronauer), an oversexed minx with bondage straps under her flowy muumuus. When a young magazine writer (Lee Trull) stumbles into the mix, everything goes haywire for a couple of hours. A good play needs more than just a collection of eccentrics with big vocabularies. This one lacks anything close to a central theme or one pivotal character. The stage is crowded, but the whole affair feels empty. Through January 30 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive, 214-904-0500. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

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