Thursday , May 23 2024
Kiki's frazzled morning slams to a halt when she gets locked in the basement bathroom of a Starbucks.

Theater Review (NYC): STUCK! at the Frigid Festival

The Frigid Festival is one of those idealistic, from-the-grassroots alternatives to bigger, more corporate events such as the Fringe Festivals. In this self-described "celebration of independent theater," all box office income goes to the actual productions, while the Festival rather cutely passes the tip bucket for itself.

A one-woman play written and performed by Jennie Franks, STUCK! is a fine example of the kind of (literally) underground theater that flourishes in the context of an event like the Frigid. Kiki, a no-longer-young suburbanite with children and a jittery marriage, is trying – with a faint air of desperation – to maintain a cosmopolitan social life by staying on top of fashion trends and clinging to an Upper West Side lifestyle. Her frazzled morning slams to a halt when she gets locked in the basement bathroom of a Starbucks, with little more than a weak cell phone signal, a giant turd, and her own insecure inner narrative.

Expectedly, Kiki lays her neuroses out for us as she talks herself through her unsanitary ordeal. Unexpectedly, breaches in the fourth wall toy with the audience's assumptions, as the character of Kiki flowers into a bearer of social and political commentary. Ms. Franks' convincing New Yorker morphs into the character of the actress herself (complete with British accent) and back. The first of these shifts disturbs and discomforts the audience, but as the play progresses they become sort of the point, and although last night's fairly sizable crowd contained a lot of Frigid supporters and friends, the cheers for Ms. Franks at the end of her original little piece weren't just friendly, but well-deserved.

The Frigid productions are all supposed to be under one hour, and with their tiny budgets it's not too surprising that quite a few are solo shows like this one. But while small in scale they are large in creative energy. I attended a "Snapshots" presentation last week, where each of a dozen productions staged a five-minute taste, and I'm going to try and catch at least a couple more. You can check out the whole schedule here.

Presented by Horse Trade and EXIT Theater, through March 9 in repertory at the Frigid Festival. At the Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4 St. (across the street from La Mama).

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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