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Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill

A young female playwright makes a promising, colorful debut with The Bats, The Flea's resident acting company.

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Sarah Chalfie and Roland Lane in a scene from “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” (Photo credit: Hunter Canning)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

 Steph Del Rosso’s first play, Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill is the Flea Theater’s latest presentation in its spanking new home, a few blocks, but light years away from its previous charming but inadequate headquarters.

Produced as part of the Flea’s Season of Women, Del Rosso’s freshman effort shows great promise.  Under Marina McClure’s insightfully freewheeling direction the members of the Flea’s resident acting troupe, The Bats, takes the play and exuberantly runs with it with their usual unabashed energy and courage to expose themselves—right down to their underwear!

Fill tells the story of poor Joni (Sarah Chalfie, quietly fascinating to watch), sadistically dumped by her charismatic, self-involved boyfriend, Noah (an exciting, sexy Roland Lane) right in the middle of his rock concert.  Emotionally scarred she journeys through a number of oddball situations and relationships to fill the resulting emotional and physical voids—explaining the wickedly repetitive title.

Joseph Huffman, Sarah Chalfie (center) and Valeria A. Avina in a scene from “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” (Photo credit: Hunter Canning)

She finds solace and new sympathetic friends when she opens herself to new sexual experiences which cleverly morph into naughty sitcom farce, including a hilarious tryst with Ray (Joseph Huffman, his sense of humor belying his good looks) and his wife, Lisa (Valeria A. Avina, a delightfully intelligent vamp).

At a pretentious restaurant she meets waiter Todd (Ben Schrager, a loveable puppy dog), with whom she has whirlwind romance via a conversation straight out Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano.

Even her good friend Kate, the most together character (Monique St. Cyr, well-spoken and elegant) and her TV producer boyfriend Doug (Jonathon Ryan, intense) don’t do much to help even when Doug drags Joni into a fantastical game show called “The Perfect Woman” in which Joni competes with the two other female contestants.  This is the last straw.

How she finally reconnects with herself and reconciles with her loss is a surprise both to herself and to the audience.

Sarah Chalfie and Jonathon Ryan (front row) / Ben Schrager, Monique St. Cyr, Valeria A. Avina and Joseph Huffman (back row) in a scene from “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” (Photo credit: Hunter Canning)

The Bats, the Flea’s resident acting troupe, fare well in Fill, their usual ebullient, courageous style giving life to Del Rosso’s words and situations.  Some of the acting veers a bit close to exaggeratedly over-the-top, but here, in particular, it works with the giddy plot.

The staging is helped by You-Shin Chen’s initially simple set of moveable boxes that explodes into a fabulous neon finale and Kate Fry’s costumes which range from the perfectly ordinary to the eye-poppingly extravagant.

McClure’s zippy, understanding direction—turns Fill into a modern fairytale.

Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill (through March 4, 2018)

The Flea Theater

Season of Women

The Siggy, 20 Thomas Street in TriBeCa, Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-226-0051 or visit http://www.theflea.org

Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

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Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (264 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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