By Victoria L. Dammer
Three-time Obie Award winner Eric Bogosian wrote and performed a comedy decades ago while recovering from alcohol and drug abuse. His stage production Drinking in America is now playing off-Broadway at Audible’s Minetta Lane Theatre.
If drinking is comedy and also a tragedy, then Drinking in America, a one-man solo performance starring the multi-talented Andre Royo as Man, is both.
Royo, a recovering alcoholic, breaks into a hysterically funny opening scene, connecting with the audience in a slit second that causes them to break out with laughter. Of course, drinking, and its effects on the male persona in America, aren’t funny, but Royo delivers a resounding performance. He transforms into over 12 characters experiencing all stages of alcoholism and its effects on each character’s interaction with himself and others. At times, it’s hard to tell who Man is, as his toxic masculinity dominates and elevates with the abuse of alcohol.
In one scene, the audience can relate to our uncomfortable feeling when someone under the influence makes advances toward us. Man spends time with a prostitute in a hotel and speaks with demeaning lines that both sexes are tired of hearing. In another scene, Man has big dreams of who he is in the eyes of others, but very little pans out into success as he succumbs to the bottle. That’s the tragedy he can’t seem to overcome.
The human elements of alcoholism and its control of life can be harsh, and many of us have experienced interactions with those who abuse. Man breaks into an angry rant about society in America, and most of the performance is filled with raw emotions that only a distinguished actor like Royo can portray. Drinking in America presents the question: where does a man fit into society today? Most will walk away from the theater, thinking about the demon in the bottle and how it breaks down a man. Perhaps we should consider what we must do as a society to change the situation.
Drinking in America, at Audible Theater at Minetta Lane Theatre, starring Andre Royo. Written by Eric Bogosian; directed by Mark Armstrong; scenic design by Kristen Robinson; costume design by Sarita Fellows; lighting design by Jeff Croiter; sound design by John Gromada; dialect and voice coach Kate Wilson; production stage management by Bess Marie Glorioso; press representation by Boneau/Bryan-Brown; advertising by Spotco; associate producers ADH Theatricals, LLC; production supervision by Hudson Theatrical Associates; general management Baseline Theatrical; Audible artistic producer Kate Navin.
Drinking in America, with a running time of approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, has a limited run through April 8th. Tickets can be purchased at: Minetta Lane Theatre – New York, NY | Tickets, 2023 Event Schedule, Seating Chart (ticketmaster.com)