BWW Review: THE ACCIDENTAL PERVERT At The Players Theatre
Sex. Masturbation. Porn. These are topics that our society shies away from openly discussing, at least within the daylight hours. America is not a land where candid talks about one's self-pleasuring habits are commonplace. We can see an arm blown off on TV but we can't hear the word vagina without going red in the face.
Cue Andrew Goffman in The Accidental Pervert. This off-Broadway show documents the true account of one boy's (Goffman's) journey into sexual maturity. As if this tale wasn't difficult enough on its own, the entire odyssey is overshadowed and heavily influenced by the fact that at age eleven this boy happened upon his dad's collection of xxx-rated video tapes (96 xxx-rated videotapes to be exact) and has been fixated on them ever since. The show was originally work-shopped at the 45th Street Theater, after which it played Off-Off-Broadway at the Triad Theatre. On December 4th it began previews at its current home: The Players Theatre.
There is nothing more nerve-racking than sharing your own story with an audience. When discussing an autobiographical experience, everything that you regard to be extremely private and personal is now on the line for all to see; a whole group of strangers are judging you and your life along with your work. Now, combine that vulnerability with the extreme awkwardness and exposure that comes along with talking about sex. And not just sex, but masturbation. This is a feeling that most would shy away from, but not Goffman. He embraces this awkwardness and turns it around on the audience, daring us to identify with at least parts of his story.
Goffman has spent most of his time performing comedy in concert on the road, taking the stage in over 150 theaters. He has made appearances off-Broadway and on film, but seems most at home making a intimate audience laugh from a small stage. His larger than life personality allows for no hesitation when recounting the dirty details of his sexual escapades, translating what could be an awkward conversation into a humorous one.
The set of The Accidental Pervert is an homage to your grandmother's basement, and even if you never had a grandmother's basement, you have definitely been in enough of your friend's
grandmother's basements to get the gist. Shag carpet and the beat up recliner, the giant VCR and the knit throw make the scene one of familiarity, and the abundance of porn tape covers and crumpled up tissues on the floor give some hints as to what goes on in this particular spot. The lights go down and up again on Goffman in the recliner, the sounds of moaning in the background. But before he can get down to business he is startled by the presence of the audience, and stands to give his opening monologue...with a massive erection. Few men, and few shows, would be able to be this candid without laughing, or excusing, or running for cover.
The Accidental Pervert runs 90 minutes, which feels about 30 minutes too long, especially while seated on a folding chair, but Goffman is active and enthusiastic for every bit. He takes us on his journey through childhood dirty dreams, teenage sexual mishaps, and finally to his sexual maturity (and everlasting immaturity) upon having a wife and child. His honesty is catching, and throughout the show one cannot help but notice audience members nodding at one another and admitting their own sexual pasts. On the way out I overheard several different people admit to finding porn movies of their own as children, something that under normal circumstances would stay hidden deep within the "I'll pretend this never happened" box in your mind. At points Goffman's child-like narration does begin to wear a bit on your patience and might be better served in smaller doses; perhaps this tone could be reserved for his younger years and gradually phased out as he gets older.
The only help that Goffman has is the constant accompaniment of sound effects, some of which work to enhance the humor and some of which don't. Several times the sound effects almost provide too much of an easy laugh when Goffman was doing just fine on his own. The sound was also a bit off on the effects, making you jump or cringe at the sudden loudness.
There are several photos shown during The Accidental Pervert, real photos of a young Goffman and one of his father, that give a great grounding to this fantasy ridden tale. Actually, I would have loved to have seen more, since it was the fact that this was a personal account that really kept you interested.
The Accidental Pervert is certainly not for everyone, but that is something you should be able to determine from the title. The older women in the audience seemed to react the best, laughing throughout the play. Some of the younger crowd appeared to be a bit antsy, but all those who came with a light attitude seemed to leave satisfied. No matter what, Goffman has to be given credit for going where few have gone before, and applying humor to a life situation that we can all
identify with, even if we ordinarily keep it secret.
THE THEATRE- The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street (between West 3rd Street & Minetta Lane), THE PLAYING SCHEDULE FRIDAYS @ 8:00 pm, SATURDAYS @ 8:00 pm. TICKETS $30
RESERVATIONS www.TheaterMania.com 212-352-3101 866-811-4111