Despite social advances, it is still difficult to be gay, or to be other in so many well-known ways. For writer-actor Ryan J. Haddad in his play Hi, Are You Single?, there is an additional challenge; he has the debilitating condition known as cerebral palsy. To the sound of loud music and enthusiastic applause, Mr. Haddad enters the stage with the aid of a walker. He moves to center stage, leaves the walker, and walks haltingly, yet confidently, to a plush couch. Black out! When the lights come back up, the audience—yes, this is a streamed performance in front of a masked and distancing live audience—is privy to a little phone sex as Ryan massages his crotch, chatting with an anonymous, on-line partner. All that can be heard on this side of the conversation is bracingly explicit, as is the entirety of this hour-long, one-man show. Ryan engages the audience with unctuous charm as he reveals the difficulties of a gay man with a disability who yearns to find love and sexual partners.
With open candor, Ryan tells of his youth and coming of age. As an adult, he details his search for partners, most notably in a tour of the many Village gay bars. He looks for hookups on the Grindr app. What relationships he tries to achieve usually sputter out for one reason or another. But he is resolute in looking for love. He briefly finds a modicum of salvation with a lap dancer. He suffers guilt, he suffers rejection, and he achieves some poignant near-misses. Hi, Are You Single, is a cri de couer leavened with bittersweet humor. It is raw and revealing, and a story that needs telling.
Written and performed by Ryan J. Haddad, directed by Laura Savia and Jess McLeod, Hi, Are You Single is a co-production of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with IAMA Theatre Company. Hi, Are You Single streams on demand through February 28, 2021. Virtual tickets are $20. Go to woollymammoth.net, call (202) 393-3939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org