As comedian Louis CK often points out, every romantic relationship is doomed to failure. Even the best ones, the ones that last till death do them part, end in death doing them part. Still, the parade of boy-meets-girl goes on and remains the most popular story fodder in our culture, from Harlequin novels to Valentino clichés and teenage vampire couplings.
With his writing partner, Bryan Fogel, Sam Wolfson looked at the zanier side of dating in Jewtopia, a cult off-Broadway hit turned minor phenomenon that alternately shocked and tickled audiences with its vulgar jokes about the Jewish singles scene. The film version of Jewtopia is now in post-production, making it an ideal time for Long Islanders to see Wolfson’s second play, Play Dates, which premiered in Hollywood in 2010 and makes its New York debut April 6-May 5 at Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three.
Artistic director Jeffrey Sanzel, who staged Jewtopia two years ago, directs the new comedy, which he calls “a grown-up version of Charlie Brown.” Asked if Play Dates is as raucous and controversial as Wolfson’s previous effort, Sanzel notes that since Play Dates is about relationships, rather than a specific ethnicity, “It’s a safer target. There are sexual references, but nothing obviously graphic. Still, it’s incredibly funny and dead-on. It has the wit and edge that Jewtopia has, but also a lot of humanity.
“We do some things that are comedically safe, and that’s fine, but every now and then you’ve got to shake things up. Good comedy has to offend somebody. So, when Sam Wolfson contacted us [about the play]…he emailed it, and within a day—within the first three pages—I knew.”
James Schultz (who was in Theatre Three’s Jewtopia), Brian Smith, Sari Feldman and Lisa Brodsky comprise the cast of Play Dates, which consists of three vignettes. The first examines the burgeoning romance of two five year olds, the second shows us “Dr. Love…the TV advice show from hell,” and the third follows a longtime couple who have lost that certain spark—so they go to a TGI Friday’s in search of a threesome. “All the scenes are very different, yet interrelated,” says Sanzel. “You see how the characters connect one to the other in this really well crafted play.”