Eliza Bent is inviting us to her bathroom and sharing all of the details. Sounds glorious, huh? Bent, a member of the critically lauded performance group Half Straddle, was told repeatedly that she should do a solo show. She took the advice and is currently sharing the results at the Abrons Arts Center in Toilet Fire: Rectums in the Rectory. Imitating 7 characters, Bent’s show explores the universal act of…um…going.
In a recent phone interview, Bent admitted that the subject matter is rather polarizing. “The moment I tell people I’m doing show about digestion, they go running,” she laughed. Even her own mother was confused stating, “Lizzy, that’s third grade humor!”, she recalled. But Bent’s 60 minute show is more than sophomoric potty humor. “What makes it more interesting is that it is infused with actual philosophical questions,” she said. “Essentially the show is structured like a Catholic mass, then it swerves into ‘conflushions’, which aren’t exactly confessions, but is more of a way for people to let go and get things off their minds.”
This is the second incarnation of the work, which premiered in May at JACK, a performance space in Brooklyn. “There is a lot of stigma around solo shows,” Bent admitted, “but I was really amazed by how people reacted. I found that people really related to it and they would share their own stories.” Bent based her characters on actual individuals, for whom she has “a lot of respect and compassion.” Audiences will be introduced to a Russian Émigré, a Bostonian flight attendant, a priest, and an Australian teenager. While Bent tackles each of the personalities, she will be joined by Alaina Ferris who plays a cantor. Kevin Laibson directs the piece. Who ever thought that a show that blends Jewish and Catholic rituals with digestion, philosophy, and faith would make for a quality performance piece? Apparently Eliza Bent, who holds an MFA in playwriting, did. No sh**!
Watch the promo video here. Toilet Fire: Rectums in the Rectory plays through November 14th at the Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street at Pitt Street). Performance times Vary. For tickets and information visit: Toilet Fire @ Abrons