By Edward Kliszus
Meandering through a packed house at Joe’s Pub, Salty Brine ascended the stage to perform his musical creation, Bigmouth Strikes Again: The Smith’s Show. In this extravaganza, raconteur Brine delivered a hysterical historical storyline through the songs of 80s rock band The Smiths crafted in the context of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein. That was just the beginning.
Brine’s musical and dramatic narrative was framed along the way by mysterious romantic and tragic anecdotes from littérateurs, including Percy Shelley, John Keats, W. B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde. We learned to sympathize with the plight of Victor Frankenstein’s Brobdingnagian creation, who, upon seeing himself, realized his bête noire countenance hid his kind heart.
Tonight was an installment from Brine’s remarkably creative The Living Record Collection, a carefully crafted collection of cabaret shows honoring the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Carpenters, Cyndi Lauper, and more. A fantastic creative segment of last words from history’s luminaries illustrated one moment of Brine’s dramatic supremacy.
Brine honored the music of The Smiths through an autobiographical perspective, revealing universal human needs like love, friendship, and realized ambitions. We discovered Brine’s Bible Belt roots in North Carolina and the paths leading him to New York City. The exceedingly talented Brine danced, sang, and spoke in ways that evoked uncontrollable laughter, empathy, or sublime wistful affection.
Brine was the master of his venue with enormous energy, insight, and pathos. The self-deprecating performer strolled among the audience, sometimes sitting on laps while gathering lavish embraces. He truly portrayed his acclaimed role, or as he enjoyed reminding us, as “the downtown darling of the New York cabaret scene.”
Lighting, sound, and music were marvelously crafted to support Brine’s exploratory and well-crafted dramaturg. The audience’s favorite song and quote of the night seemed to be “Istanbul Constantinople” and “A cynic is a romantic who lives in New York.”
An encore and standing ovation finished the night.
Runtime: 90 minutes. Adult themes and content.
The Under Radar Festival Presents
Bigmouth Strikes Again: The Smiths Show
Featuring Salty Brine
On stage in Joe’s Pub at the Public theater
For tickets and information, go to https://publictheater.org/.
425 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10003