Wake Up and Smell The Coffee, the latest solo performance by Eric Bogosian, closes June 11 at the Jane Street Theater Off-Broadway, after 11 previews and 45 regular performances. Reviews were mixed-to positive for the piece, which takes a more autobiographical and stream of-consciousness tack than some of Bogosian's earlier solos.
Coffee started percolating April 24 and officially brewed May 4. Co-producer Fred Zollo (with Nick Paleologos) had told Playbill On Line (March 17) the show would be scheduled to run 12 weeks, with an extension possible. Like other shows that received mixed or even strongly positive reviews, Coffee has had to battle the spring onslaught of new Broadway shows for audiences. Other recent casualties include Amadeus and The Waverly Gallery.
Production spokesperson Philip Rinaldi told Playbill On-Line (May 17) that in the fall, Bogosian would start a national tour of Coffee, one that would likely go through the new year and beyond.
Wake Up played June 22-27 at Boston's American Repertory Theatre. The show is another monologue collection of pimps, junkies, businessmen and hipsters taking trips down life in the fast lane -- and somewhere along the way falling off. Characters include a fellow who dreams of having an affair with a stewardess -- only to see that dream come true when the plane crashes and he rescues her. But these bits are also woven into exaggerated tales of Bogosian's own life, including the terrors of auditioning for movie roles and second-guessing what audience members are thinking during various sections of the show.
Asked about one of the show's themes, air travel as a metaphor for American society, Bogosian told the New York Times (March 17), "You wait in line to hurry up, and then there's the fear of crashing at any moment." Bogosian's wife, Jo Bonney, directed Coffee. Her recent New York assignments include the Off-Broadway dramas, Stop Kiss, at the Public Theater, and Look Back in Anger, at CSC Rep.
Bogosian started his career as a solo performer in downtown New York and has gained notoriety with shows such as Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, Drinking in America, Fun House and Nailgun. Bogosian has also ventured into the world of full-length plays including: Talk Radio, subUrbia and Griller.
When Broadway’s Epic Proportions announced its closing back in December 1999, word had it that Coffee would be the next tenant of the Helen Hayes Theatre. That distinction instead went to the avant-garde music piece, Squonk, which received mixed reviews and closed quickly, to be followed by the critical hit, Dirty Blonde.
In the interim, it was decided that Bogosian’s new play would go to the Jane Street Theatre, where Hedwig and the Angry Inch closed April 9.
For tickets ($29.50-$49.50) and information on Wake Up and Smell The Coffee at the Jane Street Theater on Jane Street, call (212) 239-6200.
-- By David Lefkowitz