Writer: Steph Del Rosso
Director: Marina McClure
Reviewer: Carrie Lee O’Dell
In December, The Flea Theater announced that its 2018 winter/spring lineup would be the “Season of Womyn”—a series of works that focus on women’s stories. The season opens with the world premiere of Steph Del Rosso’s Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill, a play centered on questions of identity following a bad breakup.
When the play opens, the protagonist Joni (Sarah Chalfie) is called onstage by her rock star boyfriend Noah (Roland Lane). It looks like Noah is about to pop the big question, but in a subversion of the trope of grand gesture proposals, he breaks up with her in front of his many adoring fans. Joni is of course crushed; she imagines holes all over her body that require filling. Unsure of who she is without Noah (or the guy before that or the guy before that), she bounces from distraction to distraction, first dating a waiter named Todd (Ben Schrager), then seeking out a threesome with a swinging married couple, Lisa (Valeria A. Avina) and Ray (Joseph Huffman). She finally reaches out to her friend Kate (Monique St. Cyr) for support, only to find out that Kate is engaged. Kate’s fiancé, Doug (Jonathon Ryan) is a producer for a The Bachelorette-type show (but “totally feminist”) that Joni enters, seeking validation. In the end, though, she recognizes the ways that she’s shaped herself for men and starts to remember the person she was before the search for male affection shaped her life.
Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill is a high-energy show, taking us through the whirlwind of events following Joni’s breakup at a manic pace. Thanks to an extremely talented cast and snappy dialogue, this is effective in illustrating Joni’s post-breakup state of mind, but at times can be a bit much—the pacing could benefit from an occasional slowdown. The characters are beautifully broad caricatures; Todd the romantic waiter, Ray the seductive self-help guru, and Noah the self-absorbed celebrity are all too familiar. The Perfect Woman, Doug’s game show, is a smart skewering of the many contradictory standards women are expected to live up to—think the “cool girl” monologue from Gone Girl, but with a much better sense of humor.
While Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill approaches its material with humor and intelligence, it doesn’t feel complete. Early in the play, Joni complains of feeling holes all over her body—in her knee, her elbow, her head. The plays title would seem to reference those holes, but they aren’t really mentioned much after about the first twenty minutes. Since they were such a central part of Joni’s trauma in the beginning, it seems odd that they fell by the wayside. The end feels somewhat abrupt; though the run time is listed as 85 minutes the show moves quickly and feels like it could be longer. Despite these drawbacks, Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill is a show worth seeing. It is smart, funny, and relevant—a good start to the Season of Womyn.
Runs until 25 February 2018 | Image: Hunter Canning