By Sandi Durell
If you’re a fan of comedy, especially blue, with romance thrown in for a theme, then you’ll have some good laughs in Dan Rothenberg (a stand up comic, writer of Suburban Boy:Regretrosexual) and Colleen Crabtree’s (The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun) Hot Mess. It’s like a 65 minute therapy session as Max (Max Crumm – Disaster!), a standup comic/recovering alcoholic, falls head over heals for way out quirky, edgy and insecure Elanor (Lucy DeVito – Steel Magnolias), also a standup comic, who is constantly coming apart at the seams because her career isn’t going well as she’s waiting for her big break, or her Shaman isn’t available, or she’s having issues with her mother.
As we meet them, they are getting to know each other in a stand-up bed positioned against a back wall of movable mirrors after just having sex. They talk incessantly and references to body parts, what they do or don’t do and where they go are never off limits. In fact, that’s the major part of the dialog – profanity prevails in this bawdy, ribald romantic comedy.
It is shortly determined that Elanor is a quitter, afraid to succeed and . . . she moves a lot. Meanwhile, Max is trying to jump-start his own standup career. His friend Lewis (played by a fabulous Paul Molnar – Alphabetical Order) is his ear every step of the way as Max shares his growing relationship, in detail, with Lewis, his married friend. Molnar also plays the role of Steve, a gay guy friend of Max. Molnar has most of the punch lines and is a standout in this three person show.
As the anniversaries go by – 3 months, 6 months – and the couple declare their love for one another, Max has been trying to tell Elanor something very important about himself but he’s stopped midstream when she relates the fact that she was engaged and then traumatized when the guy admitted to being gay. Elanor, a hysterical type, is beyond the pale as she describes her reactions. It’s at this point that Max must blurt out the truth, the one thing he’s been holding back in their relationship . . . yes, he’s bi-sexual at which point she collapses and mania is the operative of the moment.
All’s well that ends well as the couple somehow figure out how they can make it all work. Directed by Jonathan Silverstein (Artistic Director of The Keen Company – tick,tick…BOOM!) the play runs at a fast pace, as the mirrored back doors open and close and chairs move around from table to table in the scenic design by Tobin Ost.
Maybe this one’s for you!
Photos: Jeremy Daniel
Hot Mess – Jerry Orbach Theater, 1627 Broadway at 50 Street) 212 307-4100 – run time 65 minutes