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To Whom Should I Complain

Imagine Isabella from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure stepping onto a stand-up comedy open mic night stage. To Whom Should I Complain? utilizes this conceit to create a show that cleverly weaves together themes of religion, patriarchy, and personal identity into a unique and humorous narrative. 


Though this show revolves around Isabella turning to a stand-up open mic audience for advice in her time of need, the circumstance is broken by the actor and creator of the show, Moira McAuliffe, addressing the audience directly as herself. She pops in occasionally to address her personal ties to Isabella's situation, their shared religious upbringing, and the power that powerful men hold in both of their lives. Rather than feeling like an added tool for the artist to explain what the show couldn't, this fourth wall breaking adds a layer of investment and human connection to the material, creating nuance, novelty and context in the story. McAuliffe effectively uses audience connection to illicit moments of shared vulnerability, even in the moments of darker personal reckoning; this technique also works well. 

McAuliffe does a great job of differentiating herself from Isabella's character. It becomes easy to tell when she is slipping in and out of character. In addition, she finds a way to take a classical character so many struggle to connect with in our modern world and makes her an empathetic and likable person. In the beginning, I worried about the show's stand-up comedy and overall comedy aspect, as the jokes didn't come in hard right at the top. However, over the course of the show, the comedy delivered in a way that felt clever and satisfying. By the end, I understood that in Isabella's struggle to deliver the comedy at the top, we could really root for her and rejoice in her landing jokes later. The sections of the play where McAuliffe plays herself are still the funniest parts. She is a rowdy presence onstage, delivering both physical comedy and wordplay. The script and performance create a hilarious show about circumstances and topics that don't tend to lend themselves to humor. 

Blending the personal with the classical, this show highlights how religious indoctrination has lasted through the centuries. It is simple in its production but complex in its concept. To Whom Should I Complain is a great example of how the solo show medium can be used to create a play that blends autobiography with creative storytelling in a really compelling way. 

“To Whom Should I Complain”

Written and performed by Moira McAuliffe

Voice-Over Actor and Collaborator: Kevin B. Jones

April 18, 2024

The 16th United Solo Festival

March 4 – April 28, 2024

Theatre Row

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


Carmen! is a trans-multimedia artist specializing in playwriting, acting and crochet. Originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, they are currently based in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, returning to their Atlantic Oceanic roots. Their play Taking the Plunge has been performed at the Tank and the Chain off-Broadway and in the 2023 Fresh Fruit Festival slated this June. Carmen has also worked in front-of-house and technical positions for prominent theater organizations including New Dramatists, Portland Playhouse, Emursive and Future Proof. Carmen’s mission is to use play to create meaningful representation by and for underrepresented communities. For more information on Carmen! Follow them on socials @carmenacetosociety or check out


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