Theater Review: HI, ARE YOU SINGLE? (Woolly Mammoth, IAMA)

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by Samuel Garza Bernstein on January 31, 2021

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional,Virtual


Ryan J. Haddad opens his autobiographical solo play Hi, Are You Single? with a funny, sexy, and sweetly awkward phone masturbation scene. His search for sex and intimacy as a queer man with cerebral palsy is by turns seductive and acerbic. And he is not coy about wanting to get laid.

Haddad pushes back against a society he sees as seeking to desexualize people with disabilities. His hit and miss sexual encounters in young adulthood and college are infused with stated and unstated condescension. Most of the men he meets at first are unable to get past his leg braces and walker. They cannot see him as a sexual being.

He is always horny. Reactions range from a mildly condescending “yes” or “maybe” that boils down to, “I don’t have a problem with it,” or the brutal honesty of a texted, “I cant be kool w dat.” He is invisible at gay bars until a chance encounter with a straight lap dancer named Geronimo happily shakes things up.

Along the way Haddad comes to terms with the fact that he often objectifies others. “If you hate to be judged,” a man he rejects asks, “What gives you the right to judge everyone else?” A hot banker at a gay bar encourages him to step away from his walker and lean on him for support. “There,” he says. “Now you’re as vulnerable and exposed as the rest of us.” Fair point.

What starts as an entertaining series of comic anecdotes about otherness and sexual longing broadens into an involving and idiosyncratic tale of self-discovery. But not the conventional kind where the expectation might be that Haddad will learn something along the lines of the Ru-Paul catch-phrase: “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” No, what Haddad figures out is more pragmatic and thorny: He won’t find love until he allows himself to love and accept another person.

Directors Laura Savia and Jess McLeod utilize scenic designer Lawrence E. Moten III’s naturalistic set effectively. The camera work is deft, keeping the feel of live theater while taking advantage of what a close-up allows.

Ryan J. Haddad is a witty and sensitive writer and performer. But I do have a quibble.

While I stand by my earlier observation that he isn’t coy, in one way, in that first masturbation scene, he does pull his punches. The thing is, the dialogue there is very descriptive. Haddad is taking and sending pics of his presumably erect penis in real time. What we see, however, is him very deliberately taking shots of the front of his green underpants. It’s a rare moment of cognitive dissonance and it happens right at the start of the show.

I don’t exactly know what the answer is. It feels embarrassing bringing it up, as if I’m pruriently asking for a dick pic myself. I’m not. No, really. I’m not.

photos by Lawrence E. Moten III

Hi, Are You Single?
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company — D.C. / IAMA Theatre Company — Los Angeles
streaming on demand through February 28, 2021
for tickets ($20) Woolly Mammoth, (202) 393-3939, or email
the stream includes options for Captioning and Audio Description

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