nytheatre.com review by James Comtois
February 27, 2008
What an odd and fun little play this is. Writer/performer Jennie Franks has created Stuck!, a one-woman show where she plays a woman locked in a basement bathroom of a coffee shop. But not really.
Franks plays Kiki, a woman in a not-so-happy marriage who suspects her husband is having an affair with her best friend. She goes into the basement bathroom of a coffee shop in Midtown, then finds herself locked in. She bangs on the door, asking to be let out. No one hears her. She calls for help on her cell phone, but can't quite remember which coffee shop she wandered into, so she can't offer accurate directions.
So, as the title states, she's, well, stuck.
Since she's stuck, she starts to worry about what's going to happen to her: is she going to starve to death down in this basement bathroom? How long will it be before someone notices she's missing? She also starts to worry about her life: is Lionel (her husband) having an affair with Suzanne (her best friend)? Is her life indeed going down the proverbial toilet?
All this is fine and good, but about ten minutes into this piece, I started to think: where can this go? How long can she fret to herself about her husband being possibly unfaithful (especially since she's in a situation where she can get no new information)? How long can she bang on the door and ask for someone to let her out?
It was at this point where the show takes a turn, and my attention was renewed. In the middle of a monologue, Franks breaks character, looks at the audience, and admits she doesn't know quite what she's doing here. She's forgotten her lines, but more to the point, she has lost the thread of Kiki's story.
At one point, the actress complains: "I'm so sick of being stuck playing women like her. I can do it in my sleep. After all, insecurity's pumped into our DNA when we're born. Right?"
Now, we have to get over the fact that Franks herself wrote this piece, which makes this complaint more than a little disingenuous, but never mind that. Franks's performance is convincing, amusing, and believable from beginning to end. Sasha Cucciniello's smooth direction complements Franks' script and performance.
Stuck! is an incredibly short piece (only about 30 minutes long), but it's also a fun piece and certainly an intriguing one. Franks's deconstructionist take on the "Lost Woman Trying To Find Herself" piece breathes new life into this sub-genre and makes for a genuinely quirky, funny, and compelling theatrical experience.