Funny like it was in the Good Old Days!
By Myra Chanin
Here I Sit Broken Hearted, A Bathroom Odyssey, a musical comedy written and directed by Seth Panitch, is a cantata to the poetry and pictures anonymously deposited in men’s public bathrooms — an endless array of constantly refreshed and updated politically incorrect verses, both rhymed or free, which describe activities that usually occur in areas below the human waistline in words of four letters. As for the artwork, it’s the stuff that porn dreams are made of, sketched by cartoonists who aspire, despite an obvious dearth of craft or talent, to become the Michelangelo of the human male’s fifth appendage. It comically chronicles one man’s quest to discover the meaning behind the most enduring form of communication: the prolific, occasionally pious and perpetually profane messages etched on bathroom stalls along with pertinent personal experiences and intermittent flatulence. The music consists of parodies of classic hits. All in all, think forty minutes of skits written and performed by the inhabitants of Animal House at that point during a toga party when they can still hold a pencil between their fingers.
If you’re a diehard believer that what was once called deviant behavior deserves to be treated as normal, there’s no way Brokenhearted is for you. If you’re one of those who secretly smile at inappropriate salacious material, like everyone did in the old days, you might enjoy Brokenhearted, but naturally in a very, very, very guilty way. The audience only filled one third of the seats in the theater, but their laughter sounded like the house was Standing Room Only. The mirth was reluctant but explosive, like it had burst out of their unconscious when they met the Boob Guy, Kilroy, Hitler, Moses and Stalin, Phallus Man, the Magnum (fantasy) Condom and the actual penis, performed by a uniquely innocent and versatile quartet with astonishing credentials, equally at ease assuming male or female roles: Seth Panitch, Chip Persons (Richard III at La Mama), Ian Anderson (Resident Artist at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival) and Matt Lewis from Sleepy Hollow on Fox TV.
Raphael Crystal is the composer who helped Panitch nudge a score of recognizable classic favorites toward scatological immortality. Panitch’s prior production was Alcestis Ascending, co-produced by the National Theatre of Cuba and chosen as the premiere production at the grand opening of the Raquel Revuelta Theatre in Havana, Cuba. Reviewers, including those at The New York Times and Backstage, found his previous work “simultaneously nutty and witty with a philosophical message that never gets in the way of laughs” and “wickedly funny…screwball metaphysical comedy with an undeniable huckster charm.
It may have to be seen to be believed.
It’s on until July 10th at Samuel Beckett Theater at Theatre Row 410 W. 42nd St.
For Tickets: www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200
Photos: Porfirio Solorzano