Seth Bisen-Hersh, the composer and star of the uneven cabaret act Meaningful Sex, has concocted a program of 16 songs about the ups and downs of relationships. The title, a take-off of his Fringe 2003 musical offering Meaningless Sex, does more to allure than to deliver anything very meaningful at all. Bisen-Hersh happily went about his business, well-dressed and smiling out to his audience of friends, cheerfully playing embittered original songs, dolloped with profanity and genitalia jokes. On hand was his sidekick, Rori Nogee, who sang every other number and engaged in lifeless banter with the composer. At one point, Bisen-Hersh told us that Nogee was single: “Just letting them know in case anyone wants to sleep with you after the show.”
“Good point,” she returned with a big smile.
In fact, “meaningful” went out the window early on and “meaningless” became the underlining theme of the evening. Most jokes fell flat, and though the dirty songs got the biggest applause early on, the program became tiring, proved to be uninventive, and bordered on the offensive. “The raunchy songs are getting the most applause, I’ll have to play more of those,” Bisen-Hersh announced.
For all the tiresome wallowing in self-pity that went on, the composer did come up with a few rather affecting pieces. “It’s So Nice,” about the enjoyment of the early period of a relationship, was very sweet and sung tenderly. Nogee’s rendition of “The Birthcontrol Blues” showed comic aplomb from both artists. And although an encore was far from encouraged, the performing duo gave the best entertainment of the evening with a satirical medley of Broadway standards that changed the word “you” in all cases to “me.” “Me” has to be the key word in this self-made love-fest, for the performers loved the show more than anyone. Overall the singing was poor, the structure haphazard, and the banter embarrassing. It is to be hoped that Bisen-Hersh will find a more polished way to exhibit his compositions in the future. He must if he is going to live up to his self-proclaimed future ascent to the Tony Awards podium.
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Copyright 2005 Michael D. Jackson