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The Vacations We Never Took

The Vacations We Never Took, written by and starring Molly McCluskey, infuses journal entries, poems, and short stories with improv and stand-up comedy to create a solo performance that plays with the nature of the solo format.

McCluskey enters the stage relaxed, wearing a bright orange sweatshirt and leggings. Her humor begins earning laughs from the audience quickly. She discusses her dating experience while working in the security department of several dating apps, where she has to measure her morals and standards against company ethics as she navigates her tumultuous relationship. Her writing is witty and her comedic performance is well tailored to the audience. While her experience is specific to the millennial online dating scene, the humor in the scenarios described is accessible to people outside of that niche. This stand-up comedy framework is used to tell a story that is sometimes quite serious.

The visual aids in The Vacations We Never Took complemented the production. The set featured a large projection screen where screenshots of messages, pictures of letters, and photos of Airbnb listings were shown, providing a visual context to McCluskey’s relationship. The transitions between slides are well-timed, creating a show that feels like a well-oiled machine, with every element working together to showcase the story. This meticulous attention to detail helps to fully engage the audience, a credit to director Kristen Buckels.

Also adding to the performance are the voiceovers, in which the voice in McCluskey’s head criticizes her in front of the audience. McCluskey’s character is critical of what she says and does to preserve her eternally-going-sour relationship. This voiceover is a sassy manifestation of that insecurity. This gag was not overused. However, it could have been used more deliberately to lead up to the emotional climax, in which the voiceover urges McCluskey to end her own life. While the voiceover offers fun banter and derides McCluskey, it would be interesting to see the voice push her further and further into those self-hating thoughts. This would help the audience understand and be familiar with the serious side of her self-doubt earlier in the piece, which is an important part of the performance.

Overall, the piece is well-composed, produced, and features a cute little dog! It is always so refreshing to see women take center stage performing a comedy and solo performance like this. It challenges many aspects of an actor/comedian’s skillset. McCluskey, Buckles, and their team are putting on a show that will make you laugh and might make you consider dumping your boyfriend.

"The Vacations We Never Took"

Written and performed by Molly McCluskey

Directed by Kristen Buckels

March 29 and April 24, 2024

Instagram: @mollymccactor

The 16th United Solo Festival

March 4 – April 28, 2024

Theatre Row

410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)


Rita Frances Welch is… Wait, who’s asking? There are a few answers depending on the context. Rita is A) A New York playwright, actor, and director, B) The owner of 5 discrete copies of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, C) A force of nature, controlled by the tides and called to by the wind, disappearing and returning like the seasons. More material than their author, Rita’s plays have been produced by The Tank, Theatre X, Playwrights Performance, and Rogue Theatre Festival. They hold a B.F.A. in Acting from Shenandoah Conservatory, during which they studied under LAByrinth Theater’s Martha Wollner and Padraic Lillis. Rita’s writing functions as an experiment- a combination of characters in the petri dish of their world, their personal challenges and delusions in a vacuum, isolating for every variable but one: Human nature, which reveals itself every time.



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