Written and Performed by Megan Metrikin; Directed and Designed by Guy De Lancey
Part of the 2020 FRIGID New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 2.25.20
Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
by Emily Cordes on 2.25.20
Megan Metrikin in Finding Fellini.
BOTTOM LINE: Evocative of the films that inspired it, Finding Fellini chronicles one woman’s search for her cinematic idol.
Italian director Federico Fellini stands as one of the twentieth century’s most iconic filmmakers, his richly symbolic creations touching the lives of countless fans and fellow artists. One such example is creator-performer Megan Metrikin, whose love for Fellini and desire to meet her hero inspired an international search for the famed auteur. Her solo show Finding Fellini pays tribute to this endeavor, taking audiences on a journey through time, dreams, and memory in pursuit of Fellini and the ideals within his work.
Growing up in apartheid-era South Africa, Metrikin discovered Fellini’s work through her father, whose government job required him to review and censor foreign movies for public screening. Enchanted with the Fellini films her father brought home, a young Metrikin found in them a refuge from her stultifying parochial-school environment and an escape from the violence and race brutality around her. Following the murder of her childhood friend, Metrikin set off to Rome, determined to meet Fellini in person.
Immersing herself in the city, Metrikin’s pilgrimages to landmark film sites led to friendships with various locals, each of whose loose connections to Fellini brought her tantalizingly closer to her goal. Though these leads took her down Fellini’s home street and into his favorite jazz clubs, secured her a meeting with his estranged sister, and brought her to the Venice premiere of his latest film, each of Metrikin’s efforts fell short: she left Rome having never met her hero, who died shortly after her return home. Nonetheless, the experience, and her abiding love for Fellini, inspired Metrikin to develop the show we now witness.
Appropriately, Metrikin’s tale is Felliniesque in both its themes and aesthetic, nicely capturing the style of the filmmaker it honors. Wistful yet wide-eyed in her quest for meaning, Metrikin places herself in the same vein as Fellini’s innocent, soul-searching heroines. Screened movie clips strengthen this parallel, with Metrikin re-enacting famous moments from such films as La Strada, Juliet of the Spirits, or La Dolce Vita as the originals play in the background. A battered, lit-from-within steamer trunk, out of which Metrikin unpacks various wigs, props, and costume pieces, similarly evokes Fellini’s scruffy clowns. A forest of hanging lightbulbs gives light and shadow to Metrikin’s dreams, as voiceovers of Fellini quotes guide her through the landscapes of her mind. While these simple trappings can only hint at Fellini’s onscreen pageantry, the effect is distinctive and speaks volumes into Metrikin’s efforts to forge beauty out of raw circumstances.
More than a Fellini homage or a tale of hero worship, Finding Fellini celebrates the human quest for higher purpose and honors our ability to make our lives into the art we wish to see. Though her outcome is bittersweet, Metikin’s tale is no less magical for it, reminding us to savor our journeys as we seek their destinations. If, to paraphrase Fellini, a creator needs an excuse to create, Metrikin's experience is a lovely one around which to build a show.
(Finding Fellini plays at the Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through February 25, 2020. The running time is 60 minutes, no intermission. Performances are 2/21 at 5:10, 2/23 at 5:10, and 2/25 at 8:50. Tickets are $20, $10 for students/seniors/military, and are available at frigid.nyc.)
Finding Fellini is written and performed by Megan Metrikin. Directed and designed by Guy De Lancey. Stage Manager is Harrison Corthell.