ONEymoon (A Honeymoon for one)
nytheatre.com review by Melanie N. Lee
February 26, 2011
Girls grow up dreaming of their wedding day: the white dress, the flowers, the ring, the big cake, the first dance, the big party, being queen for a day. For more and more women these days, however, that dream is deferred, denied, or debunked. After all, without a partner, you can't get married…unless you marry yourself...
Caroline, the Dutch-descended heroine of ONEymoon: a Honeymoon for One, does just that. Put off by the dating scene and tired of waiting for the right guy, Caroline gathers her friends and family, walks down the aisle in white gown and veil, and promises to love, honor, and obey herself, the independent woman. Flying solo to her Caribbean vacation, her "oneymoon", Caroline relaxes by the seashore, reads Anna Karenina, and sips cocktails delivered by the handsome waiter Roberto. She reenacts scenes from her wedding reception and from her unfulfilling, now-abandoned dating life. However, as her vacation closes, Caroline finds that keeping vows, even vows to herself, can be challenging.
Performer Christel Bartelse conceived this one-woman show when, while she packed for her solo Bahamas vacation, her partner and co-writer Jimmy Hogg, who also directed ONEymoon, quipped that he felt like she was taking a "honeymoon for one." On stage, Bartelse pulls off a tour-de-force, acknowledging her New York venue and incorporating her audience into an evening of improvisation, impersonation, acrobatics, reenactments, song (including rap), and dance (including tap). Shawn Byfield choreographed the climatic tap dance, while Sarah Doucet choreographed other dance and movement.
Along with the bride Caroline, Bartelse also recreates some of her exes, including portraying muscle-flexing macho jerk Peter, a consequence of online dating. Peter talks loud, summons a waitress with "Blondie!", and lays his "disgusting wetness" on Caroline's cheek. When he wolfs down a big meal while she eats one celery stick, then asks to split the check, she says, "When I said I was Dutch, I didn't mean for him to take it literally—or figuratively!"
She involves audience members as her friends, relations, and lovers. For example, when she asks for secrets to a happy marriage, one man replies, "You have to be each other's cheerleader." Later, she recruits two men onto her stage—one as her Dad, the other as her ex-boyfriend Pat—and hands each man a scroll. At the wedding reception, Dad reads his speech in Dutch, while Pat's speech recalls a sexual encounter with the bride. Bartelse should consider adding on-stage moments for female audience members as well.
Caroline triumphantly belts out "ONEymoon Rap" (lyrics by Hogg, music by Renato Dattilo), and ecstatically dances at her wedding to Kathryn Rose's recorded song, "I Married Myself" (which should be a hit single). Caroline also breaks down as she laments that she needs three hands to fix a broken smoke alarm. Collapsing on the floor, she yells, "Help me, Jason Bourne!"
ONEymoon offers insights into the dream of the "big day" versus the reality of singlehood, the desire for marriage versus the fear of commitment, the agonies of dating and the dread of growing old alone. The show provides a showcase for Bartelse's many talents and an evening of laughs and memorable moments for the audience.