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Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Review: Comic Aftermath of A Breakup

Joni (Sarah Chalfie) right before she gets dumped by her rock star boyfriend Noah (Roland Lane). (She thinks he is about to propose.)

Joni (Sarah Chalfie) right before she gets dumped by her rock star boyfriend Noah (Roland Lane). She thinks he is about to propose.

Joni’s rock star boyfriend Noah breaks up with her on stage in front of an arena full of his fans at the beginning of “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill,” an often fun, over-the-top comedy by Steph Del Rosso at the Flea Theatre about the wincing aftermath of the breakup. The title is meant to describe what Joni tries to do after being dumped – fill the sudden holes in her life.

Joni tries a threesome:
Joseph Huffman, Sarah Chalfie (center), Valeria A. Avina

Joni (standout Sarah Chalfie) subjects herself to a barrage of bad advice from friends and professionals (“It’s probably a good idea to get a new style”/”Get a new wardrobe”/”Get a new face”) , imagines in an instant an entire life of love with a waiter, experiments with a couple who want a threesome, waxes nostalgic for her boyfriend-free past with her oldest friend whom she essentially abandoned when she became part of a couple.
Much of this is clever, amusing and appropriately cringeworthy, albeit directed by Marina McClure with unvaried exaggerated energy using an eight-member cast selected from the Flea’s resident company of young actors, The Bats. If the dialogue and scenarios are heightened for comic effect, they often reflect something deeply recognizable.

“I need to erase the Relationship Quadrant of my life,” the rock star Noah ( Roland Lane) tells Joni cryptically, and then explains: “I don’t see you in my future.” A few moments later:
Noah: I want to see other people.
Joni: I thought you were erasing the “relationship quadrant”
Noah: Well those were just words.

That he has called her up on stage during his concert to tell her he is dumping her is a spot-on metaphor: Doesn’t every breakup feel like such a public humiliation?

“Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” slips in its originality and verve in the last few scenes. The first of these presents Joni as a contestant on a game show called The Perfect Woman. Even if it said anything new about the impossible expectations that men impose on women, do we really need yet another parody of a game show? Game shows are often self-parodies to begin with. Then Noah makes a reappearance, and is so much more of an irredeemable jerk than he was even in the breakup scene, without the comic spin, that the audience might mentally exit what’s happening on stage and start speculating about the playwright; is there somebody specific on whom she is exacting this revenge? Finally, Joni has a conversation with her younger self, a child who is so implausibly wise and stable, while the adult Joni is so clueless and foolish, that you feel the urge to shout out: Hey, Joni, stop beating yourself up; you haven’t turned out that bad.
In the lobby of The Flea is a bulletin board full of Post-It notes filled out by audience members about their worst break-up experiences. Some are weird, some sad, some infuriating – all point to an audience who might look to “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” to help replace the holes left by heartbreak with a little laughter.

Joni as a gameshow contestant
Front row: Sarah Chalfie and Jonathan Ryan
Back row: Ben Schrager, Monique St. Cyr, Valeria A. Avina, Joseph Huffman

Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill is on  stage at the Flea Theater through February 25, 2018

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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