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Review Roundup: Sarah Silverman's THE BEDWETTER Opens At Atlantic Theater Company

The Bedwetter will play a limited engagement through Sunday, June 19th, 2022 Off-Broadway at the Linda Gross Theater.

The Atlantic Theater Company presents the world premiere production of The Bedwetter, a new musical with a book by Drama Desk Award winner Joshua Harmon and Emmy Award winner Sarah Silverman. Read the reviews!

The show features lyrics by Emmy Award winner Adam Schlesinger and Sarah Silverman, music by Adam Schlesinger, choreography by Byron Easley, and direction by Lucille Lortel Award winner Anne Kauffman.

The Bedwetter will play a limited engagement through Sunday, June 19th, 2022 Off-Broadway at the Linda Gross Theater.

The Bedwetter features Ashley Blanchet (Waitress), Rick Crom (HBO's "Divorce"), Charlotte Elizabeth Curtis (Off-Broadway debut), Zoe Glick (Frozen), Darren Goldstein (The Little Foxes), Caissie Levy (Caroline, or Change), Charlotte MacLeod (Off-Broadway debut), Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo), Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago, "Cheers"), Margot Weintraub (Off-Broadway debut), and Emily Zimmerman (Off-Broadway debut).


Jesse Green, The New York Times: Much of this might have been improved had Schlesinger lived. And much could still have been camouflaged by a strong staging. But "The Bedwetter" doesn't get that, at least in this incarnation; the usually acute director Anne Kauffman, working on an awkward set by Laura Jellinek, seems to be going for a middle-school aesthetic to match its milieu. Even at two hours, the show feels needlessly elongated by switchovers from one vague locale to another - and by numbers, including one about Xanax, that extend well past their welcome.

Ana Zambrana, Did They Like It?: In an age of men marketing cash-grabbing faux-feminist pieces (again, Diana) that attempt to shoehorn trauma and deep themes into buzzy stories, The Bedwetter pushes a grounded narrative that peels the yellow wallpaper down and gives an intimate look into how one of the '00s most visible, distinct comic voices came to be. Though The Bedwetter still hasn't made me want to be a Silverman Stan, it's given me a new appreciation for the odd mix of traits that make up the comedian's public persona and even made me want to be a part of the Silverman family. Silverman should be extremely proud of the piece she has created, it poignantly unveils the realities of what it's really like when a girl grows up.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Theatre Guide: Balancing and blending the show's silly and serious split personality is a tricky assignment that exceeds the creative team and director Anne Kauffman's grasp. The feel-good - well, feel-better - resolution comes off as abrupt and incomplete. Along the way there are laughs. Songs are chipper and spiky, as expected since comedic numbers are among Schlesinger's specialties. But there's a nagging sameness to the score, and it starts to sound like musical wallpaper. Beth Ann's two big sobering songs stand apart. They're part of a growing musical theatre subgenre: troubled mom songs. Dear Evan Hansen and Jagged Little Pill are recent shows that also have them. Design-wise, the show checks boxes efficiently enough. Laura Jellinek's panels and partitions shift to reveal various locales. Kaye Voyce's costumes range from street clothes to pageant-wear. Japhy Weideman's lighting helps set the mood. Levy, fresh from a mom role in Caroline, or Change, impressively squeezes her solos for every drop of feeling. Neuwirth's performance, like Nana's suit, is beige, but she has one great moment that helps compensate. As Sarah, Glick shoulders the show with a gutsy star turn.

The Bedwetter ultimately delivers a message about the powers of streaming your truth. The show is flawed but fun, and it feels at home off Broadway.

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: The Bedwetter doesn't feel slight. Like a good mattress it has both bounce and genuine heft. This owes in part to the knowledge of Schlesinger's loss, but as much or more to what he has left us - an adroit musical that treats the emotional life of a child with the complexity and the seriousness it deserves. And the emotional lives of the adults, too. Under Anne Kauffman's direction, no character feels stock. The principal cast endows the Silverman family with real psychology and emotional depth. Even the supporting cast - Ashley Blanchet as Miss New Hampshire, Rick Crom as two shrinks, Ellyn Marie Marsh in a variety of roles - locate nuance even in big, broad comedy. As a musical, it is both quiet and loud, crude and kind, diffuse in its structure, but clear in its aims and lucid in its understanding of psychology and growth. And even if the ending doesn't really end anything, it still feels like completion, like success. For a show of and about so many bad jokes, that's one hell of a punchline.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: In addition to being a bed-wetter and Jewish in what appears to be an all-Gentile community in New Hampshire, little Sarah is the new kid in school, a move having been facilitated by her parents' recent divorce. Being Jewish and the new kid and a closet bed-wetter and having an older sister (Emily Zimmerman, doing her best in an underwritten, thankless role) who is instantly popular in school because she's gorgeous - these are all subjects that are held up to ridicule for our entertainment. And when Harmon and Silverman's book and Silverman and Adam Schlesinger's lyrics hit those targets, "The Bedwetter" is a very perceptive and funny musical. Best of their creations is Sarah's grandmother, a role that Bebe Neuwirth clearly relishes. Here's a chronic drunk who has taught her granddaughter to pour the perfect martini way before the kid hits her teens.

Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post: The new musical "The Bedwetter," based on comedian Sarah Silverman's memoir, is not as tight as a fitted sheet. Potential abounds in the tangled show, which opened Tuesday night off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company, especially in its central idea: that, to the mile-a-minute mind of a 10-year-old, waking up wearing wet pajamas can feel as emotionally traumatic as an adult dealing with divorce or depression. Life already sucks, even at 10. "The Bedwetter" uses little Sarah's nighttime problem as an insightful window into the struggles of the eccentric grown-ups in her family. That smart framework screams out for a bold and moving musical. So why does it come off so slight and tentative?

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: The musical features excellent writing and cutting zingers, alongside a sketchier story and character progression, raising more questions than answers about the family, its many traumas, tensions, and fractures, and what Silverman herself went through and how it affected her. It also edges around the depths of the family's pain-particularly around the death of Sarah's baby brother-but never fully digs into it. The show ends with a supportive anthem for the young Sarah and her bedwetting, reflecting a kind of "well, we're all screwed up" attitude. That may be true, and it may be reassuring, but it's also a deflecting, mischievous shrug. The Bedwetter may make you laugh. It also keeps its audience at a calculated arms-length.

Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: There's no shame in admitting it. A show entitled The Bedwetter doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of leaving the theater humming happy tunes. Especially when its titular character, a ten-year-old girl, has a vocabulary that would make a Merchant Marine blush. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that this new musical adapted from comedian/actress Sarah Silverman's best-selling memoir emerges as not only one of the funniest but also the sweetest shows in town.

Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: The Bedwetter is nevertheless a satisfying entertainment of significant promise, sparked by a notable assemblage of performances. If the aspiration is to follow in the path of that other unconventionally outspoken awkward-child memoir-musical, Fun Home, it clearly does not yet succeed. Even closer to home is the Atlantic's prior musical, Kimberly Akimbo, which is coming to the Booth in October. There is enough originality and emotional heft embedded in The Bedwetter to reach similar heights, yes; but it does not at present shine through.

David Cote, Observer: While there's still deep animosity and recrimination between Sarah's parents, they come to some peace. The Bedwetter, for all its wallowing in childhood shame and selfish, bitter adults, is a coming-of-age comedy. Sarah takes pills for her clinical depression, she falls in love with stand-up, and presumably achieves some control over the yellow stuff. Happy ending.

To read more reviews, click here!


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