nytheatre.com review by Anthony Pennino
Stephanie Shaw—playwright and
performer of Duct, produced by Chicago’s Neo-Futurists—reports
during the course of her performance that her sister thinks her shows
are "sick and twisted." Shaw, recognizing that neither is necessarily a
negative quality, has crafted a superb one-woman show that is one of the
true treats of this year’s FringeNYC Festival.
August 15, 2002
Let me say right now that I am not a big fan of the monologue show. Duct, however, transcends the inherent pitfalls of the form and is a provoking, startling, and entertaining theatrical event. I am not sure which I liked more: Shaw as an actress or Shaw as writer.
As an actor, she has that rare quality to convey empathy, intelligence, and passion all at once. From the moment she enters, all eyes are upon her. In a medium that requires that the performer be extremely appealing, Shaw never wears out her welcome.
As a writer, she weaves magic. Duct is basically a series of monologues about Shaw’s life as a mother of three. She talks about her fantasies, her father’s death, and her sister as well. Her words frequently display the lyricism of Dylan Thomas. And her concerns are the concerns of James Joyce in Ulysses: the focus on the mundane day-to-day events of life as reflective of some greater search for a more universal meaning. Indeed, there were many moments during the course of Duct that I felt that Shaw was the 21st century’s inheritor of Molly Bloom from Joyce’s seminal work.
Not everything makes perfect logical sense. But Shaw is an artist who knows that art needs to make emotional sense and not necessarily rational sense. She even pokes fun at her own choice of closing music—an Irish folk song, though she is not Irish—but reveals (and rightly!) that it is a fitting end to her show because it feels right. Shaw says at one point, "I have never been adventurous enough to fuck a dream." Maybe not, but she is adventurous enough to reveal herself, warts and all, in a funny, honest, and challenging way.