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The 12 Dates of Christmas is a celebration of clichés

Ginna Hoben's seasonal comedy perpetuates sad single lady stereotypes, pajamas and all.


?Lawrenceville's Aurora Theatre rolled out a festive, mildly raunchy offering by way of the one-woman play The 12 Dates of Christmas November 28. The production first appears to promise an empowering, festive narrative starring Mary, a struggling NYC-based actress, post-public breakup. What it serves up instead is a one-dimensional, tangled string of tired rom-com tropes embedded into one woman's dating misadventures.
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?Ginna Hoben, the playwright behind The 12 Dates of Christmas, first staged and starred in the production in 2010 at The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va. Although the script performed at Aurora is lightly updated with a smattering of Scandal references, as a whole, it doesn't hold up just five years after its maiden voyage. The idea that potential suitors default to communication as invasive as a telephone call does not come off as remotely realistic in 2015. Even in 2010 it was uninventive and gauche to place a single 30-something woman in the center of a plot and allow the "ticking biological clock" phase to enter the script. Then there's the record-scratch sound effect to portray a knee-slapping say what? This might have been overlooked had it not happened twice in the relatively short production.
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? In 12 Dates, we meet Mary in the wake of a truly horrendous split. She caught her fiancé kissing another woman on a broadcast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. A residency in sweats and hearty swigs of Chardonnay from a Maxine coffee mug ensue. Eventually, as the title suggests, Mary concedes to 12 set-ups over the course of a year via her zealous Aunt Kathy, her endorphin-hyped sister Sally, and so on. One such foray features a one-night stand with an Irish bartender spawned from his St. Paddy's Day shift, another focuses on a run-in with the aforementioned trash ex-fiancé and the inevitable catch-up coffee (classic). 
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? It's tough to get behind and root for Mary when she panders to cliché after cliché. She chases the disinterested dude and ices out the other who gives a damn. She resents family for taking interest in her personal life. After rejecting her ex over coffee, she has An Independent Woman Moment soundtracked by Alanis Morrissette. And at the end of it, she finally emerges from her pajama uniform only for the promising prospect of ensnaring a wealthy single father. We've seen this kind of thing before. A lot.
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? Star Jacyln Hofmann does a decent job with the dated script handed to her. It takes a tremendous amount of gall to carry a play completely solo and for the most part Hofmann succeeds in holding the audience's attention. She shows promise with comedic timing and at least two regional accents. It'd be interesting to see her in a role with some depth — a quality Mary regrettably lacks. 
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? The 12 Dates of Christmas could make for a fun, wine-soaked girls' night out in lieu of a Katherine Heigl film screening. But if taking up that alternative, expect the same absence of imagination and perpetuation of sad single lady stereotypes.
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? The 12 Dates of Christmas runs through Tues., Dec. 29 at Aurora Theatre.




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