The company of the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville knows a good thing when it sees it. After last season’s successful production of "The Love List" by popular Canadian playwright Norm Foster, they are repeating a proven recipe for audience happiness. "Looking" is another romantic comedy by Foster and his trademark banter is as hot and spicy as ever, served up by a wonderful cast of local all-stars. In fact, the two male actors from “The Love List” are reunited here, and the combination still packs a punch.
The play opens as middle-aged Andy (Dave Davies) confesses to best-friend Matt (Wayne David Parker) that he’s desperate to meet a woman interested in a meaningful relationship. Andy wants to place an ad in the personals. Matt suggests he’d have better luck crashing funerals:
“I'm serious. There's always women around because they want to comfort the bereaved. They're dressed in black which is a slimming tone. And there's food.”
Matt’s got a point. But fortunately for the audience, Andy takes out the ad anyway, connects with Val (Anne Miranda) and arranges a blind date at a local pub. A double date. Andy brings Matt for moral support, and the sweet, sincere Val brings along her no-nonsense police-officer pal, Nina (Sandy Birch). Of course, the two skeptics, Matt and Nina, immediately hit it off, leaving Andy and Val to slog their way through the slough of middle-aged dating in search of true love.
“Looking” takes its forty-something protagonists on a romp through insecurity, insolvency and the inexpressible trials of trying to fall in love. This charming production offers testimony that “the course of true love never did run smooth,” even for characters who aren’t young, star-crossed, nor embellished with Elizabethan patina. These are real people – four memorable, likable, vulnerable characters who each, at some point in the play, express thoughts we’ve all had. We can empathize with their situation even as we laugh at it.
Directed by Kate Peckham, this production offers a perfect night out. It’s a funny, compassionate comedy that provides welcome respite from a cynical world. And though the subject matter is certainly adult, nothing happens onstage that couldn’t play on prime time TV.
The abstract, modular set design by Bartley H. Bauer is cleverly suited to the fast pace of the show. And the sound design by Christie Nicole includes well-timed songs that perfectly foreshadow – or underscore – the onstage action.
We suspect that everyone will walk out humming one of their favorite tunes; it’s that kind of show. And even if you’re not currently “looking” for that certain someone, “Looking” promotes a sort of quiet optimism that suggests it’s not too late. It’s never too late.
“Looking” runs at the Tipping Point Theatre through March 3, 2013. The curtain rises at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with matinees at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. A special matinee performance has been added on Wednesday, February 13 at 3 p.m. The Tipping Point is located at 361 E. Cady St. in Northville. Tickets are $29 to $32 for adults and $27 to $30 for students and senior citizens and can be reserved by calling the box office at 248-347-0003.