Review: “Death of a Bottle Girl” at The Tank

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Anthony J. Piccione

  • New York Theatre Critic

It’s basically an open secret that the NYC club scene can be a very gritty and intense world. It’s arguably like the rest of this city, in that it can be full of fun, but also full of danger and risk. If you’ve never been to a club like the one I’m describing, then perhaps the next closest thing to knowing what it’s like to be there, in the middle of the action, is seeing Death of a Bottle Girl, the brand new autobiographical solo show from Sydnee Washington.

Like many of the other shows presented at this year Speak Up, Rise Up festival at The Tank, this hour-long show did an excellent job at showing us a perspective in the work place not always seen on stage. In this case, it was that of a young woman working nights in the club scene. From trying to become immune to the effects of rufis, to various interactions with celebrities from Jim Carrey to Jay-Z, to the moment she was ultimately fired from her job, Ms. Washington’s story is certainly an intriguing one, and the details of the story itself are quite clear and descriptive, to be sure.

In terms of Ms. Washington’s performance, however, it was mildly underwhelming, in that I couldn’t help but think she came off as anxious, at various points of the night. Granted, the show did suffer a brief technical difficulty toward the beginning, so perhaps that may have thrown her off a bit. In any case, while I thought her performance could have used more emotion and personality, it did not prevent me from enjoying the show and thinking about it afterwards, as her descriptions of each scene and encounter were so vividly clear, I’m still thinking about them – and how they’ve affected my view of certain people – even now.

The show ultimately ended, rather abruptly, with Ms. Washington’s declaration that tonight marked the end of the “bottle girl” chapter of her life, and the beginning of a new one, before immediately exiting the stage. While the performance was far from the best I’ve seen, it was nonetheless a poignant and descriptive story, which certainly provided insight into the perspective of those working in this busy, and sometimes dark, industry in New York. It’s a perspective that I’m bound not to forget, anytime soon, and perhaps that alone makes this a successful show worthy of praise.

“Death of a Bottle Girl” ran for one night only at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up festival on August 11th. For more information, please visit www.thetanknyc.org.