By Jamie Brickhouse; Directed by David Drake
Part of the 2017 FRIGID New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 3.4.17
Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 3.1.17
Jamie Brickhouse in Dangerous When Wet.
BOTTOM LINE: Jamie Brickhouse shares both humorous and heart-wrenching stories about his sexuality, his relationship with his mother, and his alcoholism.
While the Frigid Festival’s offerings might be somewhat of a gamble, as some of the shows are still works in progress, Jamie Brickhouse’s Dangerous When Wet is a sure thing. As a two-time Moth storyteller winner, Brickhouse has a knack for delivery even without an acting resume under his belt. His one-man show is based upon his memoir of the same title, which focuses on things like his relationship with his mother and her death, his alcoholism, the life of a gay man in New York City, getting diagnosed with AIDS, and his suicide attempt. This is a lot of ground to cover in a mere sixty minutes, but Brickhouse guides us through the highlights, resulting in an emotionally packed show where there is never a dull moment.
Brickhouse’s performance is augmented by a projection screen which showcases photos of he and his mother, along with images that work as scenery, giving a sense of place as he re-enacts various moments of his life. Music also helps Brickhouse to transition from one story to the next. We see little Jamie growing up in Beaumont, Texas, aware of his homosexuality even in elementary school. He is supported and encouraged by his glamorous, hardworking mother who is successful in finance even as a woman in the 1970s (in Texas no less). His mother encourages him all of his life to be a writer, but makes him promise not to write about her until after her death.
Brickhouse’s pursuit of a writing career leads him to New York City, where he works in book publishing and later founds a literary agency. While in New York he pursues hedonistic pleasures, having big lavish parties with his boyfriend that find him regularly drinking late into the night. He and his boyfriend have an open relationship, allowing him to engage in sexual escapades with strangers in the back of a gay porn shop. He hilariously relays one such adventure about having sex with a little person. His darkly humorous tone then turns dramatic as he shares his AIDS diagnosis and his desire to die.
Brickhouse’s sense of humor and knack for comedic delivery make this show a compelling and thoroughly entertaining one. His immense likability and enigmatic personality makes you root for him when he gets pushed down by difficulties in life. My only gripe—Brickhouse attempts to cover a lot of ground in an hour, and as we rush through the major events, it feels as though much is being left out. I would love to see this show again, but in a longer format that would allow Brickhouse's story to reach its full potential. I certainly hope to see Brickhouse perform again soon, be it on a theater stage or another storytelling event. If you see only one show in the Frigid Festival, Dangerous When Wet is a great choice—it's sure to make you laugh and reflect on the barriers you have overcome in your own life.
(Dangerous When Wet: Booze, Sex, and My Mother plays at the Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through March 4, 2017. The running time is one hour. Performances are Thu 2/23 at 5:30, Sun 2/26 at 3:30, Mon 2/27 at 5:30, Tue 2/28 at 10:30, and Sat 3/4 at 8:20. Tickets are $15, $12 for students/seniors, and are available at FRIGIDNewYork.info.)
Dangerous When Wet: Booze, Sex, and My Mother is written and performed by Jamie Brickhouse. Directed by David Drake.