The F Trip
nytheatre.com review by Fred Backus
July 25, 2008
Lemonade Productions The F Trip takes us on quite a journey—more than one, in fact. In this one-woman show, writer/performer Kim Schultz launches into three basic "trips" of personal self-discovery that are presumably autobiographical in origin and that also involve trying to understand three very different men—a love interest, her father, and Jesus "the Man." The resulting piece is at times moving, often funny, and always engaging, even if how these individual journeys coalesce into a cohesive whole isn't entirely satisfying.
We first meet Kim on an archaeological expedition in Israel, where in spite of her apparent lack of expertise in the profession, she has signed on with a team to excavate a possible location for one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. Unlike many of the visitors to this area of the world, Kim and her team are there to dig up artifacts—and remove the "art" from the "facts"—sifting through the myth to find the truth of the man, a theme which appears in her two other "trips." The other men are her own father—a man who is emotionally closed off due perhaps to a tragic event in his past—and an enigmatic drifter named Paris Rhodes who throws Kim's life into upheaval when he turns out to be something other than what he seems.
As a performer, Schultz is tremendously talented and very present—not to mention very funny—and the ease and openness she exudes make you feel like you are re-experiencing her emotional journey in the moment on a very intimate level. As a writer, Schultz uses lots of recurring and evocative thematic imagery and some wonderful turns of phrase, deconstructing everyday language to try to link her experiences together. Overall, the piece moves like a river, swirling rapidly at times and flowing steadily at others, and Shultz and director Jay Aubrey have created a dynamic that is engaging along every twist and turn, the spine of which is Schultz's portrayal of her would-be fiancé's betrayal and her eventual coming to terms with it. At almost every moment, The F Trip is an engaging ride that feels like it's leading us somewhere.
Therefore, that is doesn't really pull together in the end is a little disappointing—and it ends up falling prey to the high expectations it itself creates. It may, in fact, have one trip too many. By far most of the time is spent on the gigolo storyline, and while the archaeological expedition serves as a very effective framing device for this story, the story about Schultz's father largely gets short shrift. Although Schultz seems to imply that this is ultimately the more important tale, the structure of the piece doesn't really support it, and I was left wondering just how her experiences with her father and the drifter ultimately related to each other in any illuminating way. And while we know by the end that Schulz has undergone some sort of perspective-changing catharsis, how it takes place or what exactly is the lesson she has learned is never really explained. In The F Trip, Schultz's journey, both literally and figuratively, stops in midair, when what it really feels like what it needs to do is land.