POST: FringeNYC's 'Single Room Occupancy' shyness holding me back

When I first read the title, I thought it would be a one man show, taking place in a one bedroom apartment. After reading the description, I learned that I was very wrong. It was actually about a comedic songwriter, struggling with everyday distractions and the fear of performing in front of others.

So I walk in, and I immediately thought, "Yes! No poofy hairdos or constricted views for me. I can see the entire play wherever I sit." I sat down in the middle, front row of a cozy space. Too many times, I’ve seen only half of a play and tried 8 billion different positions to get a better view, but not this one. I get to see it all.

I then notice the band playing, and the first instrument I see is a keytar, a fusion of guitar and keyboard. A total throwback, making me beyond excited to hear the synth/dance sound of this unique instrument. The play immediately earned cool points. I began bobbing my head and dancing in my seat to the music that was playing, the play hadn’t even started, and I was already in good spirits.

The play started shortly after the improvisation, where comedians improvised based on audience participation. I’ve never seen improvisation or a play that’s interactive, so I was impressed. I’m laughing in the front at this point, wanting to participate, but having my shyness holding me back. 

Following the improvization, Matthew, the main character, is introduced. Matthew, a comedic songwriter talks about the 250 songs he’s written since he was a kid. His music has a 80s, comedic/romantic feel to it, with funny song titles like 'My Future Ex-Girlfriend' and 'I Met Her On Tinder.' He worships Phil Collins and hopes to emulate him through his music, if anyone hears it.

Paralyzing stage fright controls his life, so the closest he gets to performing is as the pianist for an improv group, The Pull-Out. I found myself identifying the most with his character. The fear of embarrassment and my overwhelming shyness paralyze me from doing what I love, so similar to Matthew, I am on my journey to overcoming said fear. He continues on to sing a song that references the title of the play, and it gives insight into how they relate. It’s his room, the only place he can perform in. 

Matthew’s superficial girlfriend, Rachel, enters the scene. The two are on a date, and it is clear that she is a woman searching to gain her ten seconds of fame with little concern for the relationship. Over time, as Matthew’s relationship crumbles, he realizes that Rachel is really as committed as he is. So, he searches for love onTinder. Yes, you read that right. Tinder.

He continues dating other women but is still paralyzed by his stage fright, until he reunites with a childhood friend, Kim. The two get reacquainted, and I think you can see where this is going. Matthew realizes that he loves Kim. He sings a song they both love, one he had written for his high school graduation, titled 'The Music Will Last Forever.'

Here’s the part I hate. The end. Why must all good things come to an end? Here we are, and Matthew begins professing his love through singing their song. It’s hard not to envy Kim at this point. A man professing his love through a song he’d written. I don’t think I’ll be seeing that being done nowadays. He begins to sing, and slowly the fear begins to paralyze him once more. This is when I’m holding my breath. Is this the end of Matthew? Where is this going to go? Of course, Kim comes to his rescue, continuing the song, and the two sing their love to each other. Talk about cute. At this point, I couldn’t resist the tears any longer, and began to bawl.

- Mona