nytheatre.com review by Robert Attenweiler
February 28, 2008
The title of Bob Brader's new play, Preparation Hex, lets you know exactly what you're in for. Within the title are "Preparation H," "Hex," and "ex"—all the main points of Brader's honest and funny one-man show. So, it's hemorrhoids, the occult, and former loves gone sweet and sour that Brader delivers with an infectious mix of humor, horror and insight at The Red Room now, as part of the second annual FRIGID New York Festival.
Brader begins his monologue (think a lighter-hearted, confessional Spalding Gray) with the horrendous anchor of this piece: he has come down with hemorrhoids one week before his new play is supposed to open. And, as he points out several times, the play is a desk monologue. He needs to be able to sit down the entire time. And he has received a scathing review from a preview performance. There is only one answer, he figures. Someone must be out to get him. He must be hexed. So, the week ticks down and while Bob soaks in the soothing water of his sitz baths, his mind drifts back to stories about those who, he thinks, had cause to want to punish him. Not surprisingly, all of these stories are about relationships gone bad.
But Brader is building a well-balanced story here. His descent into pain and the humiliating possibility that he may have to cancel his show over his condition wonderfully parallel his stories about his personal life that, at first, seem equally painful but, as they unfold, become a touching account of Brader finding love (after which, he tells about the hemorrhoid rupturing).
Brader has enough charm that we believe his romantic conquests and enough nervous energy that we sympathize with him, believing him to be an underdog, while he is the hero all along. Brader and his director and co-developer, Suzanne Bachner, have a great sense of the structure of the monologue show. Brader varies his pace, earns his pauses, and delivers different characters in voices that sound natural, like when you imitate a friend when telling a story.
All told, the show could be tighter still, but, as it stands, it is a thoroughly enjoyable ride through one man's rather uncomfortable times.