Premiered in the 2003 New York City Fringe Festival

Music by Ethan Hein

Review by Kelly McAlister of

I hate going to Emergency Rooms. There is something I find horrible about having complete strangers seeing me at my most vulnerable. Television, almost from its inception, has keyed in to the inherent drama of hospitals and doctors, blood and guts. These shows, and the lack of continuity in them, led Rob Bronstein to write a one-man show about his own experiences in ERs. The result is a very funny, at times harrowing, hour of theatre.

Bronstein starts off with his first visit to the ER, when he was all of four, and goes over several memorable occasions in his life where he found himself in the hospital, either as patient or as concerned husband. Most of the stories are humorous - from the time when he was a boy and another boy got his teeth lodged in young Bronstein's eyebrow, to a game of towel-snapping that ended with Bronstein falling down a flight of stairs. There are also a few gross-out moments, like how after the fall down the stairs...well, I don't want to give it away, but the end of the story made me groan and hold my head. Towards the end of the show, a few more serious stories are told: one involving an old lady and a very cold day in Chicago that I found sad and quite moving, and another about Bronstein's ex-wife and anaphylactic shock that to me drove home how hard it is at times to communicate with other people when you really need to - you know, like when you're in an Emergency Room.

Bronstein, a former writer for Second City, has a natural ease on stage and a wonderful sense of comic timing. He combines a stand-up comic's control of a crowd with an actor's sense of the dramatic. He shares the stage with Ethan Hein, who provides musical backdrops to all the stories. Hein's original music is a great addition to the show, never distracting, always adding to the story.

All in all, this is a really great show, and I recommend it.

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