Aubri O’Connor lights up the tiny stage at Caos on F, drawing us into this quirky, funny, and poignant play within a play starring her alter ego, Aubrey. During a 70-minute romp through Aubrey’s colorful romantic life, she and playwright Danny Rovin “build a place within our heartspace” to examine the nature of love, loss, risk, and regret. Rovin’s excellent writing offers a smorgasbord of enticing ideas for us to chew on during this spirited, energetic production.
The world premiere of 50 Ways to Date Your Aubrey opens with a full-on checklist of theater’s worst nightmares. On preview night, Aubrey’s would-be memoir is disrupted by last-minute rewrites, a haywire light program, and a soundtrack with a malevolent life of its own.
The more that Aubrey wills herself to be “in the moment,” – to share hilarious and touching episodes from her self-described “poly-amorous” personal history, the more she is sabotaged by blackouts and anxious on-stage appearances by both the stage manager Charles (Charles Lasky) and Rovin (playing himself), who rushes up to his star with fresh new portions of the script. A creepy off-stage voice asks challenging questions and threatens to further derail Aubrey’s monologue. The supple and sensitive Moriah (Moriah Whiteman) sits attentively in the audience, ready to rush the stage with support and advice at key moments.
But are all these disruptions really external, or do they also suggest the unsettled state of mind of a character who holds an “emotional yard sale” every decade or so to unload extraneous psychological baggage? And just who has the right to shape and share Aubrey’s tale of what she defiantly labels as “ethical non-monogamy?” The play ultimately asks questions like these and is well worth your attention during these Fringe-filled weeks.
The production is ably directed by Lynn Sharp Spears, who adroitly moves her characters around a small space, piquing our interest throughout. Spears is also responsible for costumes and the set design, which takes on greatly increased significance as the play nears its climax. Whoever should be singled out for designing O’Connor’s coif – hat’s off (literally) to one of the most inventive and colorful constructions ever! Allie Heiman (lighting) and Shane Solo (sound) rise to the challenge of creating the intentional chaos that paves the way to enlightenment.
O’Connor manages the on-stage hi-jinks with cheeky confidence. She wills us along on a bumpy ride into her hilarious and rueful past, sharing both her defiance and vulnerability with honesty and grace. Bravo to Nu Sass productions who contributed to this clever, amusing, and thought-provoking play to the Capital Fringe Festival.
Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission