The Drunk Monologues
nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman
August 15, 2004
If honesty, anger, and a raw, somewhat improvisational feeling are the elements of a punk rock song, Diane Spodarek has the theatrical equivalent of one in her one-woman show, The Drunk Monologues.
Spodarek’s acting and her stage presence are so natural that I am not sure if she was acting at all or if she was just talking to the audience as (a version of) herself. Through the course of the show, she tells the story of moving to Detroit, being part of the punk rock scene, moving to New York City, raising a daughter, marrying twice, meeting Patti Smith, etc. She plays some songs, tells some jokes, sings, confesses, and tells stories, always with a drink in her hand.
The set consists of a mike, a chair, an amp, and a lot of bottles. The cumulative effect of watching her take drink after drink after drink as she describes a life that seems to get increasingly out of hand is a statement about addiction, though the show is not exactly a show about alcoholism—at least not in the stereotypical sense.
Throughout the show, portions of the Smokey Robinson song “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” repeat, and I started to relate the lyrics (“I don’t like you, but I love you…”) to Diane’s relationship with alcohol, with herself, with the men in her life. In repeating that song, I think she is trying to make a statement about her drinking.
Between each short scene, there is a short blackout, like a shutter closing and opening to provide transition and punctuation. Though the story is told in chronological order, the blackouts separate the scenes, sometimes with comedic effect.
As a performer, Spodarek is vulnerable because of her honesty, but she does not seem the least bit afraid of being so honest. She is also unpolished, perhaps under-rehearsed—but that could be deliberate, since nothing ruins a punk rock song more than over-production.