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A CurtainUp Review
Rock Bottom

Bridget Everett
You'd be hard pressed to find a cabaret act more interactive than Bridget Everett's Rock Bottom , enjoying a return engagement at Joe's Pub. The acid-tongued, potty-mouthed entertainer exchanges profane pleasantries from the stage with individual audience members and descends into the crowd to comb it for partners in crime, standing on chairs and tables and pressing unwitting faces into her more than ample bosom. She invites one lucky patron onto the stage to share an intimate moment, mounting him as he stretches across the stage, flat on his back.

Everett skewers her prey with gleeful zest, relating the most humiliating details of scenarios she has concocted, involving sex (of course), liquor (ditto), and incontinence. She makes Kathy Griffin look like Mother Teresa – almost. And yet, even if you're the target of one of her assaults (as I was), her comic vituperation has no sting. For the most part, you're a proxy for a nonexistent fictional character. So, as personal as her attacks seem, they're really not personal at all. When she does focus on a real person in a real situation, her barbs are either harmless or aimed at the stereotype rather than the actual human being.

Not surprisingly, Everett holds hold her own alone at the mike as well, spewing obscenities as if they were old friends. She's audacious as she mocks herself, her sex life, her body parts, her family, and her childhood. While you're never quite sure which is truth and which is dare, you're laughing so hard it doesn't matter. In the visuals department, she has a penchant for lifting up her dress, but all that's revealed are black panties and a Barry Manilow t-shirt.

Speaking of dresses, she changes hers onstage several times, alternating between short tent-style and glorified robes. The former are cut down to her navel, presumably taped, with uncharacteristic modesty, so as not to reveal her nipples. She's a big girl with a big personality and a big voice to match.

While Everett gets sole credit for creation of the show, music and lyrics seem to have been written by committee: credit goes to Everett, Marc Shaiman and director Scott Whitman (the pair that brought you Hairspray and Smash), with Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Matt Ray. The songs are solid, ranging from good-time rock 'n roll to ballads and whatever's in between. Everett belts them out with a bold, full sound, which she reins in (but not too much) for the tender moments of songs like "Why Don't You Kiss Me," a jazzy ballad that evokes sixties' girl groups.

The show begins and ends on high notes. Everett is out of the gate like a greyhound as she runs into the room singing "Hey Now," the opening number. With its crisp (but not hard) rock rhythm and her sassy delivery, it's one of the show's most energizing numbers. "I'll Take You Home," the closer, is plaintive and soulful and shows Everett at her most vulnerable. Talk and tunes weigh in at about fifty per cent each.

Infectious musically and generally hilarious, Rock Bottom nonetheless starts to sag about two-thirds of the way through. But not for long. After Everett confesses she's been pregnant many times but never carried a child to term, she relates a dream that plays out right in front of us. A baby boy (looking fourteen but probably older, played by Paul Iacono) wanders through the crowd clad only in a diaper. He marvels at his development within the womb (presumably Everett's) with wide-eyed joy, repeating the refrain from Pat Boone's "Let Me Live" as he does so, eventually joined by Everett Not for right-to-lifers to be sure , but very funny nonetheless.

Everett is backed up by Celisse Henderson and Chelsea Packard and accompanied by David Berger, Jason Dimatteo, Mike Jackson, and Marc Shaiman on guitar, drums, and piano. She's a force of nature. But, at the risk of stating the obvious, be forewarned: this is not your mother's cabaret act.

Rock Bottom
Created by: Bridget Everett
Directed by: Scott Wittman Cast: Bridget Everett, Celisse Henderson, Paul Iacono, Chelsea Packard
Costume Design: Larry Krone for House of Larreon
Lighting Design: Jason Miller
Sound Design:/Joe's Pub Production Manager Jon Shriver
Production Stage Manager: Sarah Izzo
Running Time: 95 minutes

The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, (212) 967-7555,
STARTING DATE: January 6th; closing February 20th
Reviewed by Michael Bracken based on January 13, 2015 performance
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