I’m going to go out on a limb and say that MOTHS is the most challenging piece of theater currently playing in this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. I don’t mean in the sense that MOTHS will challenge your personal beliefs or make you reconsider the state of America. What I do mean is that, while the official description of the play makes it sound like it lies in the realm of magical realism, what we’re actually talking about is full-on absurdism.
Now that you know what you’re getting into, you should also know that Director Roma Rogers and her cast hit all of the correct notes – the beaming faces at curtain call could be captioned with “Nailed it!” While writer Stephen Notes narrates MOTHS and plays both the fawning, cringing Roy and the conniving Marcus with aplomb, it is Anika Harden who has the most difficult task. As Father/Son, she spends much of the play conversing with herself, and the very fact that it doesn’t seem silly is no small feat. And yet, it is Alexandra Friendly’s Lilli who is the centerpiece of the show. Not merely because her character is the center of the others’ attentions, but also because she has the most room to work. The rest of the cast plays multiple characters; Friendly shows you multiple sides of the same character.
While the cast definitely accomplishes everything they set out to do, the larger question is whether that intention is clear to the audience. MOTHS is incredibly abstract, from its action to its dialogue, feeling even more dream-like than your average stream of consciousness (if there can be such a thing). There’s a fine line between complex and impenetrable at that level, and for many audience members MOTHS is going to be the latter. If you feel like doing some mental heavy lifting, give MOTHS a spin. Personally, I prefer something a little less intellectually challenging – like Beckett.
Running Time: 60 minutes.
2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Moths’: Interview of Stephen Notes by Cate Brewer.