The Alcoholic Movie Musical: Theater review by Helen Shaw
Cynthia Hopkins’s latest musical walks a path the playwright has long trod. As with a half-dozen shows before this, the songwriter-actor plumbs her history for eerie songs about dysfunction; again she uses narrative “failure” as the piece’s meta-material. Why, then, does The Alcoholic Movie Musical! feel so fresh? It may be how loose it is, how shambolic and naked—her collaborator (and husband) Jeff Sugg runs tech from an onstage board; the rehearsal calendar is on display; attempts to go off-book are laughably inadequate.
Between video reenactments of past drunken episodes, Hopkins noodles on the guitar, trying to guess which theatergoers are critics. Sugg accuses her of narcissism, and we think, Yup, but we’re still seduced by the sweetness of their interplay, jokes and dances that seem for each other alone. Real life doesn’t have just one turning point, so honest reflection on recovery demands a certain repetitiveness. Around them, the Bushwick Starr, stripped bare of any set, turns out to have had a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline all along. Who knew? Something familiar is new again. How lovely.
Bushwick Starr (Off-Off Broadway). By Cynthia Hopkins. With Hopkins, Jeff Sugg. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.