Review: Sarah Silverman’s ‘The Bedwetter’ Captures a Child’s Despair with Not-So-Child-Friendly Humor

A story about mental health, trauma, and family issues, all told from the point of view of… an uncouth ten-year-old who still wets the bed? From the mind of Sarah Silverman, The Bedwetter depicts life in 1980s New Hampshire according to young Sarah. This brand new musical is based on her memoir by the same name. We had the chance to catch a preview of the show at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theatre on Friday night. 

The musical opens with Sarah detailing her predicament through song: her parents have just gotten divorced, she’s moving to New Hampshire with her Dad and sister, is starting middle school, and she has a secret – she’s a bedwetter. To add a little color to this already formidable scene, her mother can’t get out of bed due to depression, her grandmother is an alcoholic, and her father tends to get to know all the moms in town a little better than he needs to. Despite all of this, Sarah’s sunny attitude and precocious humor shine a light on those around her. 

Her bedwetting gets her into some unfortunate situations, and as the show progresses, themes of severe mental health emerge. The Bedwetter portrays a family with real problems, and how even children are forced to deal with some of the harsh realities of life. By telling the story through the eyes of a child, the show magnifies humanities’ and simplifies focusing on what’s important in life: those you love.

 

Zoe Glick portrays Sarah with the precocious and simplistic wonder of a child grasping to understand the world around her; her big-eyed expressions and voice fill the room with everything her character is experiencing. Bebe Neuwirth’s performance as Sarah’s alcoholic, fiercely-loving grandmother is delightfully entertaining. Cassie Levy’s emotionally charged portrayal of Sarah’s despondent mother is heart-wrenching, and her voice is absolutely breathtaking when it gets the chance to shine. Darren Goldstein captures the audience’s hearts with his humorous philandering middle-aged man act-turned concerned and compassionate father. Ashley Blanchett’s ethereal performance as Miss New Hampshire is gorgeous and hilarious. Sarah’s sister Laura, portrayed by Emily Zimmerman, and all the schoolgirls add a lighthearted and sweet flair to the show, especially when their concern for Sarah’s wellbeing pokes through their antagonism towards her. Charlotte MacLeod’s voice particularly dazzles. 

The Bedwetter has officially extended its off-Broadway run until July 10th, so catch it before it goes, at Atlantic Theater Company! 

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