“The Fifth Date” has some very funny moments, particularly between the alter egos. It has been two years in the making and was introduced at the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival. Directed by Lynn Sharp Spears, Rebecca Ellis and Colbert Lewis have great chemistry and carry most of the laughs. The actors playing their alter egos, Rebecca A. Herron and Terence Heffernan, also play a part.
…an amusing show…
This is the fifth date for two divorced people. Jill (an anxious, ditzy Rebecca Ellis) and Ted (a calmer, but also somewhat flaky, Colbert Lewis) are on their fifth date. It’s taking place at Ted’s house where he is cooking dinner for Jill. They haven’t relaxed enough around each other to really trust the burgeoning relationship or themselves. Therein lies the curse of the alter egos. Plus, you sort of wonder if they did any talking at all on the other four dates.
The little voices of the alter egos in their heads, physically manifested by Herron and Heffernan, could well be the death of any potential relationship. They are sarcastic, snippy, and roll their eyes at Jill’s and Ted’s attempts to stop over-thinking and center themselves by reciting their mantras (actually, I totally understood that one).
And yet it is their alter egos that push them together and in a real way. Ted and Jill start letting the perky masks slip and have some genuine reactions to each other. That is when you start rooting for these two emotional klutzes to find a path to each other.
Until then, the tics, startled glances, and “oops” moments — when Ted and/or Jill are muttering to their alter egos and get overheard — start feeling cluttered. While Best Medicine Rep did a fine job of coordinating the timing between the characters, this is a show that begs to be seen in person. It needs a stage because from what the narrator (Scott Fairbairn) says, there is physical action that would add immeasurably to the screwball feel of the show. The deer-in-the-headlights moments need the entire body reacting.
It is an amusing show, and conveys the leap of faith required to be an adult and to date — finding time, fitting someone else into his or her life (especially a life with kids already in it), and the self-consciousness. Lewis and Ellis convey this well in a Zoom type of setting. It would be interesting to see them take full advantage of a set on stage, in person. Of course, watching the collision of those wacky alter egos could be a hoot and I mean collision literally. Herron and Heffernan get physical long before the real people do and in a very Three Stooges way.
“Fifth Date” is written by Lori Boyd. During the talk-back after the show, and in response to a question about what her inspiration was, Boyd said that it was a desire to write something light and relaxing; something you could watch and just enjoy. In that, she has succeeded. The show was directed by Lynn Sharp Spears.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes without intermission.
Show Advisory: Some adult language.
“The Fifth Date” runs through April 25, 2021. This production is pre-recorded and presented virtually, through on-demand streaming, by Best Medicine Rep, Gaithersburg, MD. For more information, please click here.