Jeffrey Lo Swipes Right on Dating Apps
by Evelyn Arevalo
Imagine… you have 12 hours left to live. What are you going to do? Spend it with loved ones, carb load, or cry yourself silly? All enticing possibilities—but how about spending those last moments on a dating App? Jeffrey Lo’s “Spending the End of the World on Ok Cupid” offers hilarious and hopeful answers.
Scenic designer Paulino Deleal makes the Pear Theatre both expansive and intimate. He creates a wooden wasteland of thin platforms that loom overhead precariously, while the cast moves easily below. Small flags identify coffee shops and tattoo parlors, where Lo’s optimistic seekers fulfill their doomsday “bucket list.”
As the world is ending, will self-doubt hold them back? Will fear and subservience keep them stuck in the old ways?
The “Vanishing” has caused half the world’s population to disappear, as predicted by wannabe prophet Albert Winters (energetic Keith Larson). Worse yet, Winters now claims that a second “Vanishing” will wipe out the rest of the people at midnight.
We meet what’s left of humanity through their creative profile names: #areyoumymother, #helpavirgin, #liftbrolift. We marvel at curious baristas, restaurant owners, and tattoo artists. So many lonely people are attempting to connect in a last-ditch effort to give meaning to their lives.
In Lo’s play, social media has disconnected us, radically. But maybe technology can be harnessed to connect the survivors. Will people stop hiding behind their profiles and finally become their “true” selves?
In the virtual world, these people embellish and elaborate themselves. But at the Apocalypse, real lives go on, without a pause button or auto correct.
In the chance meeting of wide-eyed, super spaz Caitlyn (spot-on Michelle Skinner) and too cool for school Ben (hilarious Tasi Alabastro), we see their anxious exchange of texts, as they take the jump to meet IRL. Their unlikely friendship blossoms as they race against time, to beat the clock to certain doom.
Though the world is ending, some folks continue working away. Newscaster Sage Cruz (versatile Ivette Deltoro) spends her time on TV interviewing doctors, while her daughters wait at home. And a burger joint owner and his son, Louie (multifaceted Michael Champlin) and Lou (serious Flip Hofman), keep the restaurant open. They are serving a 10×10 towering burger to any sucker who thinks he/she can finish it.
Among the hopeful voices, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet emerge. #WarriorGirl30 and #MsChanandlerBong spend hours sharing intimate secrets. It’s all very juicy, but #WarriorGirl30 refuses to meet IRL. She’s “not really looking for anything serious at the moment.” Bad time for delay!
Jeffrey Lo’s play beautifully combines romance, optimism, and laughs. Lo takes us on a joyride to self-discovery. “Spending the End of the World” encourages us how to live better now. That means US.
“Spending the End of the World on Ok Cupid” by Jeffrey Lo, directed by Michael Champlin, at Pear Theatre, Mountain View, through Sunday, February 17, 2019. Info: thepear.org
Cast:Tasi Alabastro, Michelle Skinner, Samantha Ricci, Michael Weiland, Keith Larson Ivette Deltoro, Tyler Pardini, Tonya Duncan, Filip Hofman, and Gwendolyne Wagner.
Banner photo: Tonya Duncan, Michelle Skinner, Tasi Alabastro, Gwendolyne Wagner.