Reviews NYCOff-Broadway Published 14 November 2016

Review: Finding Fellini at Theaterlab

Theaterlab ⋄ 10th -19th November 2016

Katie Ebner-Landy is charmed by Finding Fellini, but wishes it could have been more.

Katie Ebner-Landy
Megan Metrikin. Photo: Guy De Lancey

Megan Metrikin. Photo: Guy De Lancey

Many things have happened this week. One of them is that Leonard Cohen has died, a man I loved dearly. But, no obsession with an artist can beat what Megan Metrikin felt for Federico Fellini – for whom she left Apartheid South Africa and attempted to find in Italy. Her solo show relives this story: we see Metrikin leaving, hear snippets about her childhood and watch her on her wild and charming adventure to find the filmmaker she loves.

Metrikin commands the solo genre well: she is deft and sometimes very funny in her creation of the Italian and South African characters that people her narrative. We meet Fellini’s embittered sister through a turn of the head and an excellent accent; someone who works-for-a-company-who-once-did-the-catering-for-a-film-made-by-Fellini through some clever staging and Metrikin’s mother by a perfect change of manner. My favourite character was Enzo, one of the Italian suitors, who responds to Metrikin’s mission to find Fellini with: “Why, what has he done?”

Metrikin is greatly aided by Guy De Lancey’s beautiful and spare design: a series of hanging lightbulbs that are used well to create space and action. Metrikin does less with the Fellini films and news clips that are projected on the back wall – but there are still some joyous moments here, the best being when she dances la rumba along with Saraghina behind her.

Where the show falls short is in its engagement with Fellini as anything other than the man at the end of this trail. Scenes are broken up with quotes spoken by Fellini about the importance of silence, about the use of dream and memory and the process of making. But, De Lancey and Metrikin haven’t let the ideas permeate their piece as much as they could have: I longed to see them explore silence on stage as Fellini does in cinema, or to play more with a merging of what is real and what is fantasy.

Instead, we have an attempted link between Metrikin and the Fellini characters she wants to be through the way she tells the story. She narrates romantically, in a slow drawl, with highfalutin language:  “I am walking the streets of Roma, not because I am a tourist, but because I am searching for the soul of the city.” Sadly, this had the effect of distancing us and her from the story. It suggested that she found her whole decision and adventure ridiculous, and needed to ironize it. This meant that we couldn’t get under the skin of it as much as we would have liked, and dampened the comic potential of the moments of clear and well-written irony.

Altogether, in a week from hell, it was a light and enjoyable evening. I left not as much contemplating the glorious and strange obsessions of youth, nor the horror of Apartheid South Africa – news about which punctured the narrative – but thinking that Fellini was a brilliant man, and that maybe – amidst the horror – we can see life as “a combination of magic and pasta.”

Katie Ebner-Landy is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Finding Fellini at Theaterlab Show Info

Directed by Guy De Lancey

Written by Megan Metrikin

Cast includes Megan Metrikin

Show Details & Tickets

Running Time 65 minutes


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