Theater Review: Gabe Mollica's `Solo, A Show About Friendship'

Gabe Mollica | Mindy Tucker photo

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I first met Drew Mollica in 1988 when I was assigned by the Thoroughbred Record to write a cover story on Chris Antley, for whom Mollica was serving as a jockey agent at the time. I found Mollica hysterically funny and, full disclosure, we have been friends ever since. Having since earned his law degree, Drew now practices what might be called racetrack law, and counts the TDN among his clients.

Tuesday night, I attended the opening night of his son, Gabe's, one-man show, Solo, in New York City's East Village and found that the sense of humor trait has undoubtedly been passed on from father to son.

Solo is a one-hour-and-20-minute show which counts several racing luminaries among its executive producers, including Terry Finley, Dave Johnson, Tommy and Karen Bellhouse, Len Green, and Michael Katzer. More a storytelling session than stand-up comedy, it is at times thoughtful, poignant, honest, and very, very funny.

He calls it “A Show About Friendship,” and over the eighty minutes, Mollica explores the differences between friendship among men and those among women. After he spends a day playing video games with his friend Nick, he goes to his parents' house and his mother, Joy, says she has just seen on Facebook that Nick's sister has just had a baby. “How does Nick feel about being an uncle?” she asks him.

“How does Nick feel?” Mollica replies. “I've known Nick my whole life and I don't know how he feels about anything.”

Men, he muses, hang out together with another activity as the focus-sports, video games, or anything else to watch-while women hang out to talk to and focus on one another.

It's one of many observations that had the audience not just laughing out loud, but nodding their heads in recognition.

But the central story of the show revolves around a friend breakup, not with one of his `bros' as he calls his video-game-playing friends, but with someone he considered his best friend, Tim. This story, and Mollica's inability to come to terms with what Tim has done, how it was handled, and to resolve what has happened to the friendship, is not only the central heart of the show, but a story which will resound with anyone who has been through a similar experience.

I may have embarrassed myself laughing in the intimate space of the theater when Mollica explains to his childhood friends just what it is that a jockey agent does, asking them, “You mean your father doesn't have a little man?”

The New York Times has called the show, “Very funny, sweet not sappy, intricate, Birbiglian storytelling,” and it was featured last month on an episode of This American Life. It has also had a run in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The show runs Tuesdays through Sundays through October 28 at the Connelly Theater, 220 E. 4th Street, in New York (click here for tickets) and then hits the road, heading to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston, among other stops. Click here for the schedule, tickets and more information. You won't regret the investment of time and you'll leave the theater feeling decidedly better about life.

 

 

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