Club Review: “David Dean Bottrell Makes Love: A One-Man Show”

June 1, 2022 | By

David Dean Bottrell is an actor, a writer, and a fixture on the storytelling circuit in New York City and Los Angeles. He is perhaps best known for his unforgettably scene-stealing, creepy guest star turn on Boston Legal as Lincoln Meyer. His  show at The Triad, David Dean Bottrell Makes Love: A One-Man Show, is a unique blend of spoken word and stand-up comedy; when it works, it works wonderfully well, but when it doesn’t, it really doesn’t. As the title reveals, the show is about sex and rites of passage, sex and misguided romance, sex and show business, and sex and even a tiny bit of love. 

David Dean Bottrell (Photo: Carmen Guzman)

Bottrell began by announcing excitedly that he would do something he had never done—a brand new story, performed for the first time in front of an audience.  This was greeted with rock concert level cheers and whoops by about half the crowd, which had presumably seen the show before.  For the rest of us, since we had heard none of the stories before, the “importance” of this addition had considerably less impact. The story involved an unfortunate scatological accident experienced by a friend and involving post-coital flatulence and white curtains. The childish glee with which he recounted the irredeemably gross story was matched by the reception by that loudly enthusiastic part of the crowd.  It signaled a recurring reliance on naughty words like “fuck” and “fart” used as punchlines, punctuations, and pay-offs.  He is too good a storyteller and too funny an actor to go this tired, immature route. His stories had, for the most part, enough to say and to entertain without going for shock value in such crude and obvious ways.

The first story was read from a looseleaf binder which was then put aside as the show proper began.  Bottrell chose to do the show without amplification, but his uneven projection had me wishing for a microphone at various points in the show, especially when he was speaking over pre-recorded music.  It would have made the show more enjoyable to not have to strain to hear it.  

The first story of the show proper was about his boyhood discovery of self-pleasure, erections, and ejaculation (climaxing on a rooftop no less) and was quite funny, made even more so by his goofy physicality. The mix of the innocence, the horniness, and the ineptitude of his younger self was endearing and hilarious.  His reminiscences of his evangelical family were the source of much unbelieving laughter with a tinge of nightmare as the anti-gay sentiments morphed into actual attempts at conversion. The characters he drew, even briefly, were recognizable but could have used a bit fleshing out, and their voices and accents could have been a bit more varied. They were memorable, nonetheless.

 A long and manipulative relationship with his counselor from a psychiatric hospital was sharply drawn and bitterly funny and led into his life as an actor.  The stories were punctuated and, at times, illuminated by a recitation of personal ads he had placed in newspapers, then online on gay dating sites, and then in apps as the years went by—Christian Singles, anyone? These interjections were an example of the overlap of stand-up and story being less than ideal. The names and profiles with which he identified himself on each ad were funny but a bit too on the money to be credible. It had me wondering what other elements of the show might have been embellished.

His insider view of Los Angeles in general, and Hollywood in particular, hit just the right note.  I am purposely not going into detail to avoid giving spoilers, although familiarity with the material seemed to have no affect on that constantly cacophonous half of the audience who sometimes seemed to release their torrents of screams and laughter in anticipation of the payoff rather than in reaction to it. I realize that the performer was not responsible for this situation, but it was a source of distraction anyway. 

Director Guy Stroman kept things moving briskly and made great use of two stools, a chair, and a vase of roses to paint different stage pictures in support of the stories. Bottrell had me rooting for him throughout the evening and I never lost interest, but I wish he had added a bit more detail and description and color to the narratives.  It seemed, at times, like humorous stage directions for a play we didn’t get to see.  

David Dean Bottrell Makes Love: A One-Man Show debuted at the Comedy Central Stage in L.A., followed by a sold-out 18- month run at the Rogue Machine Theatre. It was workshopped at Dixon Place in New York in 2019, and moved to the Triad in 2020 before closing at the ACME Comedy Theatre back in L.A. due to COVID. The show obviously has legs; it also has humor and heart and the undeniable talents of Dean Robert Bottrell. Even with the reservations I listed, I had a good time.  

***

Presented at the Triad Theater on April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1.

Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit-Words & Music by Jimmy Webb"—and directed many cabaret artists, including André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directs "The David Drumgold Variety Show," currently in residence at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He’s taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London’s Goldsmith’s College and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York’s performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by several cabaret and recording artists. Gerry is an artist in residence at Pangea, and a regular contributor to the podcast “Troubadours & Raconteurs.” He just completed a memoir of his life in NYC called “Didn’t I Ever Tell You This?”

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