This one-man show, written and acted by Ryan J. Haddad, has some interesting twists. It’s a gutsy play that calls attention to something that many people find discomfiting — that people who are differently abled can be sexy. Or as he puts it, our society desexualizes disabled people.
This is a brave, don’t miss show. It is ultimately about the rocky road towards hope and acceptance — and how to be fabulous getting there.
That’s a powerful premise and it comes from experience. Haddad is an actor/writer with cerebral palsy who uses a walker. His show addresses, in particular, what it is to be a gay man with a disability who has the temerity to want a boyfriend — and eventually, a committed relationship. He also hopes that he won’t be the only one asking, “Hi, are you single?”
In just under an hour, Haddad takes us through his life, starting with high school and hoping for a boyfriend of his own. He claims he was set up by his older brothers who went off to high school and got girlfriends. One brother even married his high school sweetheart. Haddad had similar expectations.
Many parts of this script are quite funny, and he skillfully layers the humor over the hurt and rejection. Even as you’re laughing, you realize that there’s a sad truth in there.
As he slowly reveals more truths, he also faces some of his own. As an actor he met in New York when he was 21 said to him, “Why do you get to judge others even as you demand they don’t judge you.” It takes Haddad a few years to unpack that and face some pain that he hides under the humor.
Haddad is an accomplished actor with a deft, light touch. Watching him mature and become more vulnerable and accepting of others and himself is a fascinating experience. It’s interesting because you have to see him as the entire person, not just the walker. He can be brave, petty, canny (about meeting men), and dismissive. You have to accept that he isn’t just an “inspirational story” — he’s a real, flawed human being.
Haddad also engages with his audience through some “icebreaker” questions (not the kind you’d have in a work situation, shall we say) and a lovely dance with an audience member. This show’s audience was composed of several staff members at Woolly and the creative team, all masked and socially distanced. It was the first time since March 2020 that an actor had set foot on a stage at the theatre.
Laura Savia and Jess McLeod direct and Lawrence E. Moten III is the scenic and costume designer. Colin K. Bills gives us a brilliant lighting design and Tosin Olufolabi is the sound designer. The production was filmed live by Lookout Production Company. The majority of the music used in the club scenes (in New York and Cleveland, his home town) are spun by disabled DJs.
This show is also in loving memory of Kevin Moore, managing director of Haddad’s hometown regional theatre, Cleveland Play House, and who had also been the managing director at Woolly Mammoth.
This is a brave, don’t-miss show. It is ultimately about the rocky road towards hope and acceptance — and how to be fabulous getting there.
Please note this film has captioning and audio description available.
Running Time: Approximately one hour without intermission. After you buy a ticket and are ready to watch, click “watch now” to start the video on the woollyondemand.net streaming site. It will be available for 48 hours.
Show Advisory: Mature audiences. Depictions and description of sexual content and explicit language.
“Hi, Are You Single?” runs February 1 – 28, 2021, in a virtual environment, by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, DC, in partnership with IAMA Theatre Company, Los Angeles. For more information, please click here.