What begins as a familiar riff on Internet dating morphs into an unsettling meditation on death. How does this happen?
Credit Laura Zam, who inhabits a fictional character named Maggie Goldfarb. Tiny and attired in a shabby little ballerina’s outfit, Maggie radiates vulnerability from the first moment she walks down the stairs and assumes a clumsy pose.
Maggie was in an accident which put her in an 8-week coma. Recovered, she finds herself with a new mission: she wants to mate. She dismisses the tedious qualities she once sought in a man (“sense of humor” “good heart”) in favor of things which truly stir her blood: “An extremely muscular stomach” “A billowy white shirt.”
She registers on an Internet dating service. When a Jewish match group proves unsatisfactory, she decides to go Interfaith by joining “Goy Toy.” There, despite her plainly stated preferences, she is yoked to a series of unappetizing elderly snoozers.
There are a billion comic routines based on Internet dating, and Zam’s variations don’t stand out. Her frenetic energy catapults her from the front of the small room to the back, but it doesn’t animate her story – until she finds The Man of her Dreams.
It happens while she’s on a date with The Man Who Could Put Her to Sleep. TMOHD is sitting at the bar and – get this – he’s reading Faust. Made bold, and relentless, by her brush with death, Maggie abandons her date and hits on her dream man. What happens next is absolutely harrowing.
Afterwards, Maggie is compelled to perspective, and everything, including the saggy men she has been dating and her own impending mortality, is laid up against the velvety background of life. It is a remarkably deep and perceptive ending to a shallow character’s story, and it is profoundly satisfying.
Stupid Frailty, the Fringe Festival’s only dinner theater experience, plays at the Sweet Mango Café Mondays through Wednesdays and Sundays
Written and performed by Laura Zam; produced by MuseFire Productions
Reviewed by Tim Treanor