Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews


All Aboard the Derelict Trail:  Bukowsical!

Theater Review

by Arielle Lipshaw

Honorable Mention # 3 of 3 of Stage and Cinema's 2008 Theater Review Writing Contest


The See You Next Tuesday Company's production of Bukowsical! opens with the lines "“What’s the feeling you get when you’re down on your luck/And you’re too drunk to fuck?” and doesn't look back from there.  On our musical journey we encounter singing booze bottles, flung fetuses, and soiled seductresses galore. If you're faint of heart, this may not be your cup of J&B. But if you've got a little Bukowski in you (and the show maintains that "there's a little Bukowski in all of us"), this is the venue for you. 


The show is framed as a backer's audition for a fictional theatre company, which is trying to raise money to mount a show about Bukowski's life. To give the backers a taste of what the production has in store, they take us down the "derelict trail" of Bukowski's life. We start with Bukowski as a child, where he is beaten by his fellow classmates to the tune of "Art is Pain." In "Writing Lesson" the ghosts of Faulkner, Plath, Burroughs and Tennessee Williams advise him to "get down, get dark, get dirty," and in "Through a Glass, Barfly" Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn battle it out for the honor of playing Bukowski on film. 


Although the framing mechanism quickly breaks down (is the audience supposed to donate money?), you're so caught up in the silliness that you don't really notice.  The Bukowsical! Band, consisting of Gary Stockdale, Jon Burr, Robby Kirshoff and Ed Caccavale, do an excellent job, and the lyrics of Gary Stockdale and Spencer Green are right on track. A couple of sour notes - the hackneyed moral outrage of a bishop, and a completely out of place ballad by Buk's ex - do little to take away from the overall value of the production.


Performances are steady all around, with Marc Cardiff excelling in his role as the Founder of the fictional theater company, and Brad Blaisdell doing his blinking and balderdashed best as Charles "Buk" Bukowski.


One of the biggest laughs comes when a lawyer from the firm of Ernst, Williams and Weinstein arrives to put a halt to the production. (Bukowski's widow, did in fact, try to stop the show.) The lawyer tells them that as, a New York Jew, she knows musical theatre, and this company's never making it to Broadway. That remains to be seen. In the meantime, it's all aboard the derelict trail.



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