by Margret Echeverria

Fingers & Spoons now playing at the Soho Playhouse is a show my date liked well enough stating that she thought the performance given by Pascale Roger-McKeever did not feel as claustrophobic to her as so many solo shows can often feel.  What we witnessed was not an unpacking of a personal psychological analysis of experience; rather it is much more an autobiographical narration in a presentational style of a woman at middle age dissatisfied with her circumstance and traveling toward the glorious light of I-will-take-the-wheel-now-thanks.  Many women can relate to her tale having disentangled ourselves from compromised long-term monogamous relationships somewhere around forty years into our lives.

Perhaps, tho, I am the wrong audience for a show like this.  The tagline for this show is “The Ins and Outs of an Open Marriage” and, frankly, I am hungry for a story about someone blazing trails and discovering happiness beyond the bondage of puritanical traditional marriage.  I’m still waiting.  Roger-McKeever gives us a memoir of a rebellion that is just so common I can’t see it as radical: Straight married man begins an affair with a woman not his wife behind his wife’s back and, feeling guilty, confesses his dalliance and suggests with glee, “Let’s just have an open marriage so you can have fun, too!”  Sorry. I’m bored.

Roger-McKeever calls herself Mom, which has me squirm in my seat, even after she explains that she is not her own mother, but indeed herself in this narration.  She then describes the sex she proceeds to have with her neighbor in such a way that is so self-conscious, I’m embarrassed for her.  She says words like, “Vag”, and I check my watch.  I’m not a prude; it’s just that I feel like she is trying to force a reaction from me by saying a word she would never say to the most intimate of her girlfriends.  I get it.  You’re exploring your unresolved past traumas through S&M.  I would be riveted if we could be let in on some deep truths uncovered during these intimate encounters, but it’s all distilled into clichés like, What am I doing?  How long will this last?   She lists her past traumas without much emotion and the silence of the audience lacks the magic of connection.

The neighbor, whom she calls a “bujew” (a Jewish Buddhist), is a fake Buddhist who uses the concepts of “living in the moment” and “impermanence” as an excuse to live like an adolescent with no responsibility for his actions and no competence for planning a pleasurable future partnership.  Amateurs to non-monogamy often start with relationships like these.  Why does she stay with him for an entire summer?  Oh, we soon discover, her husband is no prince having ruined many of her days with toxic masculinity and an inability to control his temper even around their son.  Neighbor Boy is a trade up . . . maybe?  Does she call either of these men out?  Does she turn her attention to raising a far better man?


Pascale Roger-McKeever. Photo by Jeremy Varner.

Pascale Roger-McKeever. Photo by Jeremy Varner.

Roger McKeever does have a talent for distinguishing many characters whom she embodies herself.  I was never confused about who was saying what.

When someone confesses the intimate details of their life to me I want them to at least be holding themselves as genuinely righteous. I am wholly fascinated if they are telling me new truths about humanity that surprised them.  Roger-McKeever did not strike me as comfortable telling this story and, as a result, we never go deep with her into a unique investigation of human existence.  The staging and work with props – a figure made of ropes dangling in the back and a common stage stool cum bed cum jail cell – just added to the awkwardness.  She cuts the ropes that seem to hold the rope figure in place, yet the figure changes not at all.  Neither did I.

FINGERS & SPOONS, written and performed by Pascale Roger-McKeever, directed by Austin Pendleton.  Music by Tanya Tomkins. at SOHO Rep Through June 2.  TICKETS HERE