Theater review by Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Gabe Mollica begins his one-man show with a declaration: “I turned 30, and it occurred to me that I don’t have any friends.” Sure, the comedian explains, there are guys he grew up with and bros he’s befriended through the years. But what about the kind of close friends you can talk about the Big Stuff with? When his mother faced a health crisis, he began to notice a dearth in that department.
Mollica weaves humor with vulnerability throughout Solo: A Show About Friendship. Striding onstage at SoHo Playhouse in khaki pants, sneakers and a plain T-shirt, he presents himself as a pretty normal dude. While some of his stories are complicated, Mollica keeps us engaged for the whole ride, whisking us to bars, apartments and summer camps along the way; he is also often hilarious, with a low-key delivery that sneaks in jokes when you least expect them. (I’m still laughing at the suggestion that his mother should’ve been in charge of finding Osama bin Laden, since moms seem to know where everything is.)
As much fun as raunchy humor can be, it’s refreshing to see a comedy show with a downright wholesome charm. Mollica is so endearing, in fact, that I’d now count his enemies among my own. Why then, is it hard for him to make the kind of friends he wants? That question goes beyond the parameters of this show; according to a recent study, less than half of American men feel satisfied with their friendships. But Mollica is rare in his incisive ability to identify the problem, analyze its contours and find ways to joke about it. You’ll leave the show with a smile on your face and maybe even a new resolution: to hang out with a friend and ask them how they’re doing—really.
Solo: A Show About Friendship. SoHo Playhouse (Off Broadway). By Gabe Mollica. Directed by Greg Walloch. With Mollica. Running time: 1hr. No intermission.