Theater review: ‘David Dean Bottrell’ at Theatre/Theater
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Some of us are born with a gift for transforming the raw material of life into tales so tedious, self-aggrandizing or bitter that acquaintances dread sitting next to us. Meanwhile, other people’s anecdotes sell tickets.
As a member of the former category, I console myself that I just haven’t had enough interesting experiences to join the latter. That’s why I so resented my enjoyment of “David Dean Bottrell Makes Love: A One-Man Show” at Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater.
Bottrell, a former Kentucky farm boy, is an L.A. actor-comedian-writer on the fringe of success. He has a troubled relationship with his dad, a failed long-term relationship with an alcoholic actor and some painful and embarrassing match.com encounters, and he longs for love. Yeah, well, join the club. I can go on and on about bad dates too, yet my audience never shrieks with hysterical recognition.
Bottrell’s acerbic, well-structured writing reminds me a little of David Sedaris’, but the delivery is what makes it work. Lithe and dapper, Bottrell has one of those animated faces that’s hard to pin down. It can look haggard or boyish, handsome or Muppety. He speaks in a crisp, heightened style that brings to mind a less prissy David Hyde Pierce, and his nerdy charm makes his shifts from folksy sentimentality to vulgarity all the more bracing. When a match.com acquaintance advises him that he’d get more action with a sexier screen name, Bottrell sheds “Mr. Nice Man” for increasingly explicit nomenclature.
Although his comedy is self-deprecating, it is equally other-deprecating, giving it a nice edge, as when he divides L.A.’s gay population into “two categories: those I’m attracted to, and those who are attracted to me,” or calls his show, which is in its third return engagement, “the herpes of comedy shows.” Even when he’s insulting everybody in the room, Bottrell’s take on the human condition as “funny, hopeless and sweet” is deeply consoling. Jim Fall directs. --Margaret Gray
“David Dean Bottrell Makes Love: A One-Man Show,” Rogue Machine in Theatre Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Ends Dec. 15. $19.99. (323) 930-0747 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.