Ryan J. Haddad’s Hi, Are You Single? — now playing through April 10 at Woolly Mammoth — feels impossible to write about. It seems absurd to describe how phenomenal, how incredibly insightful, how significant this autobiographical one-man show is: You must see Haddad’s work for yourself. Not just because of the intersectional representation it offers, but because it is so full of candor, playfulness, hurt, laughter, and, most important, agency, that it is essential viewing for anyone who believes theater has power to transform everyone it touches.
Hi, Are You Single? follows his experiences as an individual who is both Queer and has a disability and how both impact his love life. He takes us through gay nightclubs in Manhattan and the world of dating apps, delving into the specific encounters he has had in the Queer community as a person with a disability, all by way of a retrospective monologue. He lets us sit with him, and often respond, as he navigates his romantic, sensual, sexual experiences over the course of one hour.
Haddad is brilliant as an actor and just dazzles as a playwright. He works with Director Laura Savia to create a one-man show that is ever-engaging and deeply clever, as he cultivates with his audience the sort of intimacy he is looking for in a relationship. The play’s brevity is a testament to his talent: every part is essential; each anecdote and thought Haddad shares is resonant both on its own and taken as a whole. The actor and writer’s charisma round out the incredible script as he finds, and offers to us, the intricate, remarkably honest emotional tones of each second, showing us pain before turning it on its head with pitch-perfect comedic timing. The nuance of feeling he elicits, uniting what is upsetting with the humor we often find there, is so sincerely presented that as an audience member, I bypassed spectatorship and went straight on to feeling. Haddad’s performance facilitates this kind of connection throughout the space.
The production elements intelligently complement Haddad’s comedy for much of the show. His numerous, sometimes conflicted emotions are illuminated by the glow of an actual phone screen, and one drink stands in for many margaritas had at clubs. But the fantastic set and lighting (Lawrence E. Moten III, Colin K Bills) also feel like their own characters, moving the show along at critical times and seeming to speak up, sometimes unexpectedly. Sound design (Tosin Olufolabi) is especially wonderful, an unquantifiable element that transports us to different settings adding both realism and romanticism to the play depending on the moment. All of it, much like the audience, is Haddad’s constant companion, following, almost listening to, each moment or line of dialogue.
This speaks to a key element that makes the play so impactful: Haddad’s agency as an artist, his creative control, shines beneath the words, performance, and production the entire time. It is his world, his stage, and we get to bear witness. Through his story, his writing, his poignant acting, what becomes all the more powerful is what he is doing. Engaging with his own life in a way that kindly invites us to as well. Cultivating intimacy. Speaking the ways he’s been rendered invisible if not actively hurt, and still being vulnerable enough, strong enough, to self-reflect. His honesty begets honesty, vulnerability begs vulnerability as we leave with connection, greater ability to process our own experiences, and a model of how to still hold the thought “Why did I do this thing I did? When was I in the wrong?”
I say you need to see Hi Are You Single? because what Haddad is doing with the production is extraordinary. But if that’s not enough, do it because you will leave it a better person. More empathetic. More willing to examine yourself. More capable of growth, of connection. Ryan J. Haddad is asking us to be intimate with him. Don’t turn the invitation down.
Running Time: One hour, no intermission
Hi, Are You Single? runs through April 10, 2022, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($29– $75) are available online, by phone at (202) 393-3939, and via email at [email protected]. Twenty-eight Pay-What-You-Will tickets are also available to every performance by selecting the PWYW seats and adjusting the ticket price. Patrons who are 30-years-old and younger may, at any time, purchase Section C tickets for $20 to any performance. There are also discounts available for educators, first responders, and active U.S. military personnel, spouses, and veterans. More information is available at woollymammoth.net.
COVID Safety: Entrance to any event at Woolly Mammoth will require proof of vaccination or, for those who are not vaccinated, proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event start time. Guests may show physical or digital proof of their health status, but not through mobile or third-party apps. Masks must be worn at all times while in the building. Learn more about Woolly Mammoth’s health and safety protocols at woollymammoth.net/about-us/safety/.
The playbill for Hi, Are You Single? is online here.
April 1, 2022: Performance at 8 pm – ASL Interpreted, Post-show Talkback
April 2, 2022: Performances at 2 pm & 8 pm
April 3, 2022: Performance at 2 pm – ASL Interpreted
April 7, 2022: Performance at 8 pm
April 8, 2022: Performance at 8 pm – Post-show Talkback
April 9, 2022: Performance at 3 pm – Audio Described
April 9, 2022: Performance at 8 pm
April 10, 2022: Performance at 2 pm – Audio Described
April 10, 2022: Performance at 7 pm – ASL Interpreted
‘Hi, Are You Single?’ at Woolly Mammoth is hugely moving and entertaining (review of the virtual production by Michael Poandl, February 1, 2021)
Woolly adds a Brit hit to its season of artists ahead of their time (season announcement)
Woolly Mammoth commits its ‘badass theater’ to accessibility (news story)