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Fringe Review: Raw Stitch

Forget sophistication, says Jim Rutter. The monologues in Raw Stitch possess all the subtlety of a teenager mooning passersby from a passing car.

In comedy, subtlety and timing separate what's raw from what's vulgar. Raw is the advice my dad gave me about loose women (date 'em). Vulgar is an anxiety-addled woman blurting out that she accidentally had sex with a chicken.

The latter sort of line fills Jacqueline Goldfinger's Raw Stitch. Here, nine women hover around the stools in Quig's Pub, rechristened the "bar of bad decisions." They deliver monologues on relationships and sex shared with men, women, priests, carloads of teenage boys, and occasionally, farm animals. Few of the characters reveal any writerly imagination or veer from expected subjects. Jennifer MacMillan's deaf lesbian stands out as a welcome cap to the evening; the rest strike the senses with the subtlety of a drunk teenager mooning passersby from a convertible.

There's a bridezilla (Miriam White) planning her dream wedding without a betrothed, a foul-mouthed, sweet-sounding Southern belle leafing through cooking magazines during intercourse, wondering about the proper etiquette in the event that her husband's member falls off. Even the deaf lesbian uses the obvious device of a peach to teach the audience the "four easy steps" to oral sex. Strong acting from MacMillan and Sarah Schol (as a limerick spouting, STD-suffering South Philadelphian) saves the remainder from the pedestrian stories bartenders overhear nightly.

And that's what makes Anna Marquardt's pair of songs so vibrant. In place of monologue, Marquardt strums a ukelele to accompany tunes of simple rhymes and bubbly attitudes about broken genitals and stalking emotionally distant men. Like Taylor Swift grown boozy and bloated, she intones words stripped raw with an untempered, youthful passion. The lyrics work in ways both subtle and unexpected, a lesson that would-be comediennes should take to heart.

-- Jim Rutter

Raw Stitch. $12 Presented at Quiq's Pub, 3rd Floor of Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancy St. 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sept. 20 and 22.