Chicago Theatre Review
Who Cares Whodunnit When You’re Dating Walter Dante?
Who Cares Whodunnit when you’re Dating Walter Dante?
By Angeli Primlani
If you yelled at the TV when you heard that Drew Peterson was engaged to a 23-year-old girl despite being suspected of murdering two of his four previous wives, oh boy is this is the play for you! The Raven Theater’s world premiere of Jon Steinhagen’s Dating Walter Dante turns this tabloid situation into a delectable murder mystery, which teases a deeply human drama out of the cheap and familiar headlines.
Walter Dante is not exactly Drew Peterson. His first wife drowned in a swimming pool, not a bathtub, and Dante was married only twice, not four times. Unlike Peterson it is just possible he is innocent. That does not matter. This is not a play about the Drew Peterson case. It isn’t even really about Walter Dante. Instead the play asks why on earth any sane woman would date such a person, much less sign on to be Dead Wife Number Three?
Is Laura Bakersfield naive or brave to love this man? Are her friends justifiably concerned, or absurdly paranoid? Did Walter Dante really kill his two ex-wives, or is he an innocent man in a tragic horrific situation? And what is up with his dead wife’s ghost? Is this, as the characters conflictingly claim, a drama, comedy, tragedy, dramedy, murder mystery, ghost story or love story? That’s for the audience to decide. The answers do not come easily.
Each member of the fine cast walks a delicate line that leaves the audience guessing. But Kristin Collins’ crushingly hopeful Laura is the heartbeat of the piece. At turns ridiculous, sensual, and flaky, she still has small town Midwestern steel carrying her willful optimism. You may find yourself wanting Walter to live up to her belief in him. Or you may want to scream that he can’t.
Dating Walter Dante is at the Raven Theater, Fridays-Sundays through March 24th. If you love true crime, murder mysteries, love stories, or just a head cracking good tale, make sure you don’t have to rush home. You may want to stand out in the cold discussing the play with total strangers afterwards.