Friday, July 15, 2011

Fringe Festival '11: Molotov's "Fat Men in Skirts"

Just got home from seeing this...and man, it's a blast.

"Fat Men in Skirts" is the story of rich bitch Phyllis, who is stranded on a remote island with her son Bishop after a plane crash. Phyllis is overbearing and shallow, at one point openly admitting she coasts on her looks, and Bishop is a timid, stuttering creature obsessed with Katharine Hepburn. Assorted flashbacks and flash-sideways give us glimpses into their troubled home life; Phyllis is married to a film director who neglects his family (in one scene, he's too busy reading a magazine article to participate in naming their child). And as time goes by, Phyllis begins to crack, Bishop begins to become more dominant, and their roles reverse. Meanwhile, they're eating the bodies of the plane crash victims, and eventually Bishop forces himself on Phyllis.

Five years later, they're rescued and brought home to Dad...but in the meantime, he's become involved with a young porn actress....

This has got to be one of the best plays they've done (it's by noted playwright Nicky Silver), full of wicked wit. There's a terrific sight gag when the porn actress indicates pregnancy by strapping a patently fake baby bump around her waist, with the word "BABY" in glitter on the front. But there's serious undercurrents as we get a look at the cost of avoiding facing reality and confronting each other with the truth, and the disaster that happens when we try to force things to go back to normal too quickly after a traumatic experience.

Molotov newcomers K. Clare Johnson and Matthew Marcus are simply fabulous as Phyllis and Bishop. Silver fox Dave Gamble (from "Morgue Story) is great as both father Howard and psychiatrist Dr. Nestor, and Katie Culligan, now a Molotov veteran, is her impressive self as porn actress Pam and demented cheerleader Popo in the last act.

This is Molotov at its best; gory, offensive, vulgar, smart, thought-provoking, and sensitive. If you're in DC and doing anything with the Fringe Festival, go see it. That's an order.

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