Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 6.1.13
IRT Theatre, 154 Christopher Street, 3rd Floor
BOTTOM LINE: A pill-popping, nacho-eating, lady-loving, amateur poet almost spirals out of control in her search for love in the big city.
I've always wanted to be fly on the wall in somebody's therapy session: sitting and quietly soaking in the spilled revelation of a person's deepest secrets, wants, and needs. This long time dream was fulfilled experiencing The F*cking World According to Molly, the delicious bemusement of a lovable lady who just wants someone to listen. And maybe share a plate of nachos with her.
A sense of confusion is present from the start, when someone in the booth reveals the performer cannot be found as the audience stares at an bare stage with a chair, music stand, and flip-chart. On the flip-chart, "Ave. D Poetry Club" is written with marker revealing the guest poet for the evening: Molly "Equality" Dykeman. Moments later, Molly (Andrea Alton) comes lumbering in — mullet in full glory — wearing the reflective vest of a school security guard, carrying a cooler full of beer and a large bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. This baggage proves to carry stories of loves lost, disappointments endured, and future hopes.
This is Molly's first poetry reading and it is clear her separation between life and art — her poetry — knows no boundaries. The snappy direction by Molly Marinik guides us through a quirky journey where the rhythm of the whole performance is as strange as the poems shared. The disjointed — at times, schizophrenic — structure of the piece seems to make perfect sense. Molly's life is filled with obstacles, none of which are too overwhelming with the help of booze, pills, and a little absurd poetry. Amongst all her issues, there is a pulsing perseverance and hope. Molly needs the audience for guidance and support, to accept what she is saying and doing. She reels us in from the beginning, not because she wants our approval, but because she needs to be heard.
Alton, who wrote the piece as well, reveals a character reminiscent of one Chris Farley would embody: vulgar, awkward, lovable, and completely lost. You can imagine that Molly lives in a van, down by the river. There are several endearing quirks about Molly: she poses, lunges, exclaims, laughs, "yee-ahhs", and dances (with perfectly ridiculous choreography by John Paolillo) throughout the piece, as she would, most definitely, through life. There seems to be nothing Molly feels uncomfortable sharing and Alton completely commits to every moment allowing the audience to watch a woman completely expose herself. There is a sense that the character and the actor are very closely tied.
There are a couple moments that particularly stand out: When Molly speaks about her ex-girlfriend (the "toxic turd loaf"), her battle with bi-polar disorder, and the poem/greeting card to her alcoholic Mom. We seem to learn more about Molly in these moments than any other. There is true sense of melancholy, regret, and anger. The lines between comedy and tragedy, lucid and high, bizarre and normal are blurred, just as all other lines Molly approaches. When it comes down to it, Molly is not ashamed of who she is or what she does. The poetry reading ends up being exactly the cathartic event she needs to move on. If you don’t like it, as Molly would say, "Go F*ck Yourself." Me? I think I'll take her up on the offer to share some nachos.
(The F*cking World According to Molly plays atthe IRT Theater, 154 Christopher St. buzzer 3B, New York, NY 10014. Presented by the terraNOVA collective as part of the 10th Annual soloNOVA Arts Festival, May 22 through June 11, 2013. Tickets are $20. Purchase tickets at the door or online at terranovacollective.org.)
*Full Disclosure: Molly Marinik is the editor of Theatre Is Easy (Theasy.com)