Credit: Joe Mazza

God knows what Victor, a hapless English professor holed up in his
temporary university office, is up to at the beginning of Neo-Futurist Lily
Mooney’s new play. Pants around his ankles, he kneads his stomach with a
pillow and then his fists, grunting noncommittally as though caught between
masturbation and vocal warm-ups. In barges Mooney, calling herself Herself
but also admitting (eventually) to being the evening’s playwright, coy,
detached, vaguely threatening, alternately insisting that Victor has failed
her and that he must read her paper on Frankenstein—or more
accurately, on Mary Shelley’s introduction to Frankenstein, since
she acknowledges she never read the novel. Throughout, she steals impish
glances at the audience as though conceding this whole affair is idiotic.

And God knows what playwright Mooney is up to for the rest of these equally
elusive 90 minutes. The pervasive ambiguity makes for a savvy first hour,
as Mooney keeps a tight focus on the slippery interplay between Herself and
Victor (a deliciously bland Jared Fernley), lampooning, reversing, and
reifying certain gendered power dynamics routinely overcooked on local
stages (in one particularly inspired moment, Mooney has a near breakdown
realizing her theatrical efforts amount to little more than a half-baked Oleanna). It’s charming and penetrating and just metatheatrical
enough to keep everything simultaneously coherent and off-balance.

But in the final half hour Mooney unhelpfully widens her focus, chasing
numerous self-referential ideas down conceptual dead ends and indulging in
scattershot anecdote assemblage rather than meaningful resolution of her
tantalizing material.   v