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Here I Sit, Brokenhearted

A 70 minute long celebration of a single joke told in 99 different ways.

Matt Lewis, Ian Anderson, Chip Parsons and Seth Panitch in a scene from “Here I Sit, Brokenhearted” (Photo credit: Porfirio Solorzano)

Matt Lewis, Ian Anderson, Chip Parsons and Seth Panitch in a scene from “Here I Sit, Brokenhearted” (Photo credit: Porfirio Solorzano)

Ryan Mikita

Bathroom humor is an art of its own kind, but Seth Panitch’s musical parody Here I Sit, Brokenhearted: A Bathroom Odyssey takes this particular blend of humor and exploits it entirely. The moment the stage lights rise to full, marking the beginning of the production, a monstrous flush of a toilet rings through the audience, and that’s about as sophisticated a moment as any to be expected from the rest of the evening.

Tied together by a barebones story–the musical (composed by R. Johnson Hall) is more a series of snippets than anything.  Here I Sit… tells the story of four borderline middle-aged men whose sole connection to each other is simply the timing in which they chose to relieve themselves. The four actors, (Ian Anderson, Matt Lewis, Chip Persons and author/lyricist/director Panitch) who rotate scenes dressing up in farcical costumes by Tiffany Yeager or taking turns churning out half-baked impressions of Panitch’s idea of “relevant” cameos, are a talented bunch but lost behind a script plagued by an out-of-touch sense of humor.

Chip Parsons, Ian Anderson, Matt Lewis and Seth Panitch in a scene from “Here I Sit, Brokenhearted” (Photo credit: Porfirio Solorzano)

Chip Parsons, Ian Anderson, Matt Lewis and Seth Panitch in a scene from “Here I Sit, Brokenhearted” (Photo credit: Porfirio Solorzano)

The main theme of the evening is the graffiti that can so often be found splayed over public bathrooms, and this is encouraged by the appropriate but painfully obvious set by Mike Morin: four graffiti plagued stalls situated one next to the other. The stalls are littered with laughable, offensive, and generally slanderous phrases, and when weighing the content of the script against the gratuitous bathroom scribbling, the latter is unfortunately both more interesting and more entertaining.

Here I Sit, Brokenhearted is a prime example of a paper-thin premise that can’t begin to justify its existence. Before even the opening number has concluded, the audience is already looking to the stalls of the faux bathroom for any reason to chuckle, and the result is an unwarranted 70 minute long celebration of a single joke told in 99 different ways. This may come as a harsh criticism of what is meant to be a fun or light-hearted comedy, but this critical analysis is easily backed by public evidence: the descriptions in both the script and program reveals that the actors are known not by any specific character names, but rather as Celebrants 1-4. This attempt at irony is a tragic admittance of oversimplification, and is a glaring example of the indulgency put on full display throughout the evening.

Here I Sit, Brokenhearted (through July 10, 2016)

Samuel Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.telecharge.com

Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission

A 70 minute long celebration of a single joke told in 99 different ways.

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