Review by Joshua Ringwald, Lifestyle Blog Staff Writer, NYC; Review September 2021
I thought The Jane Street Theater in West Greenwich Village would be a large house for the one-man show I was asked to review, and I was right. Given the CoVid seating restrictions however, a 50% attendance rate was plenty full for an excellent audience reaction, and especially so given many of the attendees were the movers and shakers we New Yorkers call ‘the New York coterie. They loved this 75-minute performance by diarist, performer and storyteller David Vass, and so did I.
A minimalist set and honest, dramatic, funny, disturbing talk, presented as a series of stories from the dairies Vass has written and kept the last 50 or so years, creates the bones of this extraordinary show.
It is a condensed history of nearly everything that happened in New York and to the diarist from the early 50s to the early 80s. I was mesmerized throughout - at times shocked, embarrassed, angry, doubtful - is this for real, is this a play in disguise, am I watching a brilliant actor or one of the most honest and adept raconteurs I’ve ever listened to? And laughter, so much laughter, and a dose of weeping too.
The jaded audience went flat-out crazy with appreciation and applause at the end of the evening - cheers, a standing ovation, bravos - except for the few who stormed out when Vass told what he calls his ‘infamous strawberry story’ while passing the chocolate covered fruit throughout the theatre. A brave person to eat one and enough said.
Quentin Crisp comes to mind - an elder monologist the Gen X/Gen Z folks don’t know much about and who lived a one-of-a-kind life, his way. The phrase ‘cringe-worthy’ theater also comes to mind; think John Waters. Throw in a dollop of Dorothy Parkers’ wit while you’re at it.
I had a brief chat with Vass after the performance and he made clear that while he does not like interviews (‘it’s all in the show, why waste each other’s time!’), he realizes he needs to put up with some PR to keep his show in front of audiences; currently he self-produces which he can ill afford. Calling all producers and booking agents, this is a gold mine in waiting.
I predict one (a producer) will scoop him and his evening up and promote it Off-Broadway and around the country soon. I hope so. If you can find ‘What Could Go Wrong?, you owe it to yourself to see it. A brilliant evening, honest! www.whatcouldgowrong-theplay.com