A Comic Tale of Identity and Ambition in “3 Men”

Lead Article, Reviews

By Joshua Melendez
 
In a small black box theatre, center stage, three bar stools are neatly stacked, one on top of the other. Downstage right, a picture frame and a laptop lay on a wooden desk. A distinguished‑looking man enters and takes a seat behind the desk. Within the very first minute, the audience explodes in laughter. This is a common occurrence throughout “3 Men,” a play written and performed by Mike Folie about the time when he, a corporate speechwriter, was offered the opportunity to write and produce a Broadway show. Mr. Folie recalls three influential men who played pivotal roles in his career: the Broadway Producer, the Lawyer, and the Magazine Guy. Mr. Folie remembers asking himself: is he a playwright or a speechwriter? Does he belong to the corporate world or the world of the arts? “3 Men” is Mr. Folie’s journey down memory lane as he sought answers. He exuberantly pokes fun at the three men’s quirks, their crude humor and outlandish personalities. Mr. Folie’s elder mentors bring focus to the play’s themes of fulfillment and identity.
 
Mr. Folie spoils the audience in many ways. Giving a flavorful synopsis of his life, he’s able to turn any sour moment into comedy, for example, his cancer diagnosis. He is both brutally honest and lighthearted. When Mr. Folie recalls his encounter with the Broadway Producer, he vividly describes the old man sitting on the couch like a lopsided ice cream scoop. Mr. Folie remembers the Broadway Producer’s weird fascinations, the Magazine Guy’s absurd remarks to his Caribbean maid, and the shameless Lawyer in all their stereotypical behaviors.
 
The comedy of “3 Men” finds pathos in the three influential men’s lack of personal fulfillment despite their professional successes. They are assertive, committed and driven, but remain unsatisfied, having lived bitter lives. Their last moments before dying show how little their accomplishments have meant to them in the end.
 
“3 Men” is an intimate and minimalist evening, in which Mr. Folie moves between the three bar stools when portraying the three distinct men, playing on the audience’s imaginations. Eventually, the carefully arranged stools would fall. At that moment in the story, Mike realized that he can be all three: a playwright, a speechwriter, and, perhaps most importantly, a father.
 
As the lights dim, shining a warm autumn hue onto the wooden desk, Mr. Folie sits down, places his hands over the laptop keyboard, and enjoys a moment of serenity, unconcerned about accolades or criticism from others. Unwilling to pretend to be somebody he is not, Mr. Folie says, “Sometimes, whatever it takes is too much.”

 
3 Men
Written and Performed by Mike Folie
Directed by Stephanie Musnick Karpell
September 21st at 4 PM
Photo credit: Carolee Karpell
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
 
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JOSHUA MELENDEZ is a writer and painter from the Bronx, New York. He graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelors in English. Melendez has published work in his alma mater’s literary magazines, The Junction and Stuck In The Library. He is also a contributing writer for Art N Fly, a boutique art supply company. In his spare time, Melendez does art commissions.

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