My Dead Wife – Written and Performed by Mike Folie
Directed by Frank Licato
Despite its title, Mike Folie’s My Dead Wife is not at all depressing. Since she died some years ago in what seem to be preventable circumstances, the artist has had both dreams and visitations. “I don’t really believe they are, but that’s how they feel.” When he asks if they can be together in dreams, his dead wife shrugs as if to say, “Man up, boychick, things are what they are.” (Tender humor peppers the piece.) Episodes become curious conversations in off-kilter contexts rather than something upsetting. Folie eventually moves on and marries again, but “she” keeps appearing.
Framed by chapters, the genial author segues back and forth from meeting (self-deprecating and amusing) and living with (an apology came in the form of “are you hungry?”) his not yet dead wife to what happened after she passed. “People send you things. I gained ten pounds” rides tandem with his unexpectedly collapsing on the stairs and keening. A theory about his dead wife’s returning as a deer is both wry and charming. (We don’t learn her name until the very end.)
Pivotal memories rise: his children’s births, the way Folie’s 55 year-old wife died, his daughter’s and friends’ reactions, picking up the pieces, connecting with a new woman. The story is well written – warm, sympathetic, and credible. We like everyone involved.
Director Frank Licato has paced the chronicle well giving his actor ample time to reflect. Emotion is evident but never overplayed.
My single caveat is the use of a laptop presumably to remind the performer of sequence. Until the very end, Folie is tethered here preventing direct communication, impeding effect. Hopefully, over time, the machine will be eliminated.
Billosophy: life, circus, death – Written and Performed by Bill Forchion
This is a difficult play about which to write. Lack of clarity and trajectory make a story undoubtedly clear in the performer’s mind seem haphazard. Program notes say that in the piece, its author addresses “Who am I and Why am I here?” I have to say, we don’t get it. Bits and pieces of circus life (this could be far more entertaining), evangelistic philosophy (freedom from intangible fear), and audience participation (today filled with willing friends), are like puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together. A funeral of self is completely puzzling.
Bill Forchion is, however, a sweet, thoroughly appealing person with something to say. In my opinion, he needs a playwriting class to structure and edit this attempt and a director to help realize it. Costume and props have charm.
In its 9th year, United Solo, the world’s largest solo festival, presents over 130 local and international productions including storytelling, dance, puppetry, multimedia, improv, stand-up, magic, music, and drama over the course of ten stimulating, entertaining weeks. A fascinating, affordable way to see a cornucopia of theater. Recommended.
Photos courtesy of the performers
United Solo presents:
My Dead Wife
Written and Performed by Mike Foley
Directed by Frank Licato
Billosophy: life, circus, death
Written and Performed by Bill Forchion
410 West 42nd Street