Off Broadway plays can get really weird. Like, watermelon-being-smashed-to-bits-on-stage weird. So when the basic Broadway lineup starts to feel tired, it can be difficult to navigate theater options that extend beyond seeing “Wicked” for the fourth time. Here to help you avoid being needlessly splattered with fresh fruit, we bring you the January edition of our monthly roundup of Off and Off Off Broadway shows.
“Every Brilliant Thing”
Great For: Sentimental list-makers or just anyone with a pulse / who likes ice cream
“Every Brilliant Things” is like what would happen if the sweetest and most sentimental feeling you ever had turned into a pot-bellied British man and produced a low-budget show. Jonny Donahue has turned the square Barrow Street space into interactive theater in the round. As the audience fills the seats — multiple rows of which are now on stage — he hands out scraps of paper (and at least one piece of bubble wrap) with items from his narrator’s list of “Every Brilliant Thing” worth living for.
The unnamed central character (played by Donahue) begins the story as a seven-year-old boy, who writes the list for his mother after she tries to take her life. As he moves into adolescence and then adulthood, experiencing his own bouts of depression, the list grows, ultimately blooming into new meaning. It sounds a bit simple weepy written out like that. And there are no promises you won’t cry. Yet, under all the shameless sentimentality that comes with calling out wonderful things on the backdrop of such dark subject matter is a raw truth about the way we handle suicide, and a sense of boundless optimism that could melt even the heart of that miserable prick who stepped on your foot on the subway last week.
In performances until March 29 at Barrow Street Theater.
“Bridget Everett’s Rock Bottom”
Great For: Sexually liberated winos covered in glitter
In “Rock Bottom,” the oft nipple-bearing Bridget Everett has reached her peak form: goddess of body positivity and also cunnilingus. For reference, this is a woman who makes Rebel Wilson look shy and “Girls” seem like a daytime special on PBS. She bursts out of the curtain no less than 30 minutes after showtime, having chosen a brown-bagged bottle of Chardonnay as a more crucial accessory than a bra.
Things get pretty dirty as Everett moves through 12 songs about sex, abortion, rape culture and more sex, with the accompaniment of “Hairspray” composer Marc Shaiman on the piano. To clarify, here “dirty” means “seriously, at one point, she made two different men lick whipped cream off her inner thigh.” But what we see in “Rock Bottom” is not just gross-out over-sharing. Everett has a powerhouse voice and a sex positive feminist worldview that she will shove in your face along with her glorious bosom. If you get bored during this show, you might actually be dead.
In performances until Feb. 20 at Joe’s Pub at The Public.
“Bad With Money”
Great For: Predatory…