Free beer is always good. At the Little Big Theater on the Lower East Side, the audience waiting for Happy Hour to begin is given free Pabst Blue Ribbons in cans and margaritas in clear plastic cups. The whole event underscores the old saying "They always look better at closing time." Based on Joelle Arqueros's compilation of monologues titled Sex, Relationships...and Sometimes Love, Happy Hour is a sloppy but fun incarnation by producing director Michael Horn. The 40-seat black box gets full of rowdy late-night theatergoers. The show plays at 10:30 p.m. and, if it starts late, lets out at midnight. By the witching hour, the audience is bubbling with booze, giddy from 18 vignettes about sex, and ready to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting Houston Street.
The cast flips through the short scenes—all are humorous and all are less than two minutes long. The opening vignette, "I Love You," features Meghan Reilly and Matthew Gologor in a slow dance. She faces the audience as they embrace and whispers in her lover's ear, "When I go to sleep, I wake up loving you more and more. It is like we have been blessed." As they turn in their dance, his petrified face turns toward the audience as she strokes his neck.
They meet again in one of the final scenes, "I Hate You," in the same embrace, Reilly facing out. She whispers, "It is like I have been cursed by your existence on this earth, and the world would be so gracious and cleansed if you were gone." The man's face remains unchanged from the first scene. How fickle is woman indeed.
The set is minimal—a bar and some tables and chairs against black masking. The cast is similarly costumed in all black, with the exception of Chala Savino, who dons a flowered red skirt to play a woman hungry for a new "flavor" of man in "Flavor Wheel."
The monologue "So Bored With You" is performed by Lisa Crisci in an exaggerated French accent that would make Pepé Le Pew proud. "Yes, I sought you were hot," she admits, "but now zee more that I know you, not a sing about you motivates me."
Horn does well to loosen the audience members up during the pre-show. The cast incorporates them often, especially the men. Their names are used, their laps are sat on, and their friends are propositioned. (That may sound like fun, but ultimately the joke's on them.) Derived from improv styles like that of Second City TV, Happy Hour has a rotating cast, some of whose members stay with the show and perform different roles; others are swapped in for actors with outside gigs. The show will run indefinitely.
All in all, Happy Hour is as significant as a one-night stand. The production is light and silly, and makes no weighty proclamations regarding romantic love or human emotion. It is fun to see this lively bunch crack some jokes while you crack open another free PBR.
Editor's Note: The original review of Happy Hour contained factual errors which were edited on June 6, 2006.