Anthony J. Piccione
- New York Theatre Critic
Back in 2016, the first two shows I ever reviewed in New York were Jellybean Junkyard, a one-woman show at Under St. Marks Theatre; and the NYC premiere of Hazelwood Jr. High, which was presented as an immersive theatre production at Mayday Space in Brooklyn, which is still one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen as a reviewer. Both of these shows were either written or directed, respectively, by playwright and performance artist Sean Pollock, and recently, I had the opportunity to spend the weekend as an audience member at his latest, site-specific theatrical work.
The Bed Show – whom Mr. Pollock devised in collaboration with director Hana Mastrogiacomo and fellow performer Jon Schuta – is an intimate production which revolves around the themes of dating, sleeping, sex, and dreams, sometimes in a humorous manner, and other times, in a rather dark and serious manner. When I first arrived at the secret location in Brooklyn, the small audience I was part of was asked to submit any questions we had for the two performers, to be answered at the beginning of the show – after they “woke up” – before moving on to the main performance: a discussion of various topics – picked by audience members from a bucket – to be led by the two performers, in what appeared to be a partially rehearsed and partially improvised manner.
Coming into this show, and the apartment where it takes place, I admit that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, and what my experience would be as an audience member. Thankfully, any concerns I may have had were alleviated as we progressed into the show, with both Mr. Pollock and Mr. Schuta proving to be able hosts for the performance setting, easily making the (relatively small) audience feel at ease and comfortable discussing past experiences on a wide variety of subjects. Ranging from eating in bed to social media habits to kinks in past relationships to the performers’ physical health problems, I was impressed with how much the performers were willing to share about themselves, and how able they were at leading a discussion with audience members of various comfort levels on any past experiences they might have had concerning various topics…while still making it feel like it’s a theatrical show that the audience is part of.
Needless to say, it isn’t quite a conventional production. Instead, it almost has the feel of a morning TV talk show, except with more content and discussion that you are highly unlikely to find in such shows. While perhaps not the most creative example of immersive theatre I’ve seen, it is nonetheless a worthwhile event that is worth an hour of your evening, and perhaps may lead to some thought-provoking ideas and discussions on the topics it explores. I strongly recommend coming prepared to participate in the show, and to discuss some topics regarding dating and sex in a fairly intimate performance setting. As long as you do that, than this will likely be a unique theatrical experience that you’ll enjoy and will be worth remembering.
“The Bed Show” – presented by Unattended Baggage – runs from June 1st to June 16th. For more information, please visit www.thebedshow.brownpapertickets.com.