A hard-knock tale of a Village princess’s fall and rise

Mary Goggin in a promotional photo for “Runaway Princess.”

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Mary Goggin’s one-woman show “Runaway Princess” is a darkly comedic play about Irish Catholic parenting, first periods, beehive hairdos and how that all inevitably leads to becoming a Village prostitute who loves heroin.

But in between irreverent jabs at Irish history and sarcastically lighthearted recountings of “hooking” mishaps, Goggin tells a story of addiction in a performance that is honest, powerful and ultimately uplifting.

With every vignette of Goggin’s life, the wall between performer and viewer is broken a bit more, drawing you in, as you hope that the story isn’t just a fairy tale.

Mary Goggin performing in “Runaway Princess.” A chair is one of only two props in the piece.

On a dark stage in the East Village’s IATI Theater, the story begins, of course, in Ireland. Goggin opens an oversized children’s storybook and tells the tale of a sadly potato-less land, with a king and queen forced to flee to a faraway possibly potato-filled land called the Bronx.

The audience learns that the king and queen are Goggin’s parents and that she is their little hardheaded Bronx princess.

The play then jumps to Goggin’s school years where she desperately yearns to be one of the cool girls that “had blonde beehives and wore padded bras!” But, alas, the poor princess is too tall and lanky and too friendly with a girl that is way to into marine biology and is fatefully labeled as “uncool.”

Mary Goggin tells vignettes of her life that range from highs to lows and back again to highs.

After a rumor spreads to the nuns at school that Goggin is pregnant, she runs away from home and lands in the Village. There she meets her best friend, Dawn, tries pot and quickly starts going to clubs and turning tricks. But the party ends when Goggin’s father finds her in a halfway house.

“I wish you would get some sense,” the king of this fairy tale tells his princess.

The scenes from Goggin’s life become increasingly more heartbreaking as she travels to rehab, falls off the wagon and back into prostitution. By the time our Bronx princess does get some sense, she has a bottle, a baby and a black eye.

Although she doesn’t mention it by name in her performance, Goggin told this paper that she did some stints in the former Women’s House of Detention — the infamous “House of D” — at Greenwich and Sixth Aves.

In the final scene of the performance, when the wall between performer and audience is at its most thin, Goggin decides to change for her daughter’s sake, and forgives herself, the nuns and the king and queen. Re-instilling hope that people can indeed always choose to make their lives better, her fairy tale really does end happily ever after.

“Runaway Princess,” at the IATI Theater, 64 E. Fourth St., Mon., March 4, and Thurs., March 7, at 7:10 p.m., and Sun., March 10, at  3:30 p.m. Tickets $20; $15 for seniors, students and military. For more information, visit marygoggin.com .

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