In the final installment of the 12th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival at Live Bait Theater, Mary Scruggs details her adventures and emotional upheavals on the back of a Harley during “Run for the Wall,” the annual cross-country motorcycle pilgrimage to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. “Of course I’m on this trip because of a man.” She is referring to Dan—friend, colleague and Vietnam vet—and “the man who got me on a motorcycle.” Scruggs, with her Campbell-Soup-kid looks, decides this is not what “a married lady with a child should be doing,” but her husband’s refrain is unchanging: “Oh you should go. It’ll be fun.” This was clearly a meaningful and sprawling experience for Scruggs, but at ninety minutes the show could use some edits. Fewer detours and false-starts, in other words. (Edward Thomas-Herrera is the director.) The best portions focus on the visceral details of the ride itself—the “coursing, surging asphalt,” the colorful road names each rider adopts. The men on this trip are burly, no-bullshit types, and they take Scruggs under their collective wing. They call her “darlin’,” and instruct her to climb aboard. She is seduced by the proximity this affords—the heat between two bodies; muscles shifting; the smell of leather and soap. The show is defined by an undercurrent of sorrow and introspection—the ride is dedicated to POW’s and MIA’s, and the front of the caravan rides in a “missing man” formation—yet a persistent, low-key humor buoys the monologue. Scruggs is a likable performer and more than once flashes a priceless, barely perceptible, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me facial expression. (Nina Metz)
“Missing Man” runs as part of the Fillet of Solo festival at Live Bait Theater, 3914 North Clark, (773)871-1212, through August 24.