"Bye Bye Liver": in vino veritas?

You'll hate yourself in the morning: Mike Rylander in "Bye Bye Liver"
You'll hate yourself in the morning: Mike Rylander in "Bye Bye Liver"
So I went to the heavily attended Bye Bye Liver Saturday night at Hennepin Stages, and found it an amiable, intermittently filthy homage to booze, comedy, and the moment when bad judgment seems just the ticket. But here's the thing: attending a show about getting soused, by my lonesome critic self, led me to keep my faculties together. In other words, I didn't drink a drop. And while the show was undeniably funny, I was led to think about the link between theater and drinking. 

In my case, there is none. I found out the hard way, early on: I had a couple of glasses of wine (no low-ball description, just a respectable buzz) before reviewing a show several years ago. The subsequent experience wasn't pleasant at all: I sat in my seat during an over-long show, pen in hand, on the clock, all the while feeling increasingly dehydrated and wishing the performers onstage would get on with it. 

So I have been teetotal during every review I have written for City Pages, save for that one, though there have been times when I questioned whether my strategy was for the best. During bad shows, sure, but also during certain good ones. I look around at the Jungle, for instance, with its inviting cup holders, and wonder whether a beer might enhance the proceedings. 

Bye Bye Liver ups the ante. It's a show celebrating getting drunk, and walks a terrific line without dwelling on the after-effects (save for references to whiskey dick, and unwanted pregnancy, and other things none of us have any familiarity with). It's a show about escape, and though I viewed it stone sober, I have to give it credit for sharpness and capturing the sweet moment between infinite possibility and humbling regret. Because, really, isn't that where we do most of our living? 

Bye Bye Liver plays at Hennepin Stages through July 31. For tickets call 1.800.982.2787. 

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