Off-Broadway Review: DEAD BRAINS: A PSYCHOSEXUAL THRILLER (Feverdream Lounge at Baker Falls)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on January 21, 2024

in Theater-New York


There is a notion floating around that critics get pleasure from bashing shows. I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s been my experience that most reviewers love the theater. Personally, I want every production I see to be good, to work, to have something: energy, theatricality, artistry, to be interesting, deep, funny, moving. I want them all to succeed. Some do. Others don’t. But sitting here right now I can’t recall a show so singularly, so perfectly abysmal aswriter/director Erik Champney’s Dead Brains, currently on offer at the Feverdream Lounge at Baker Falls.

Charity Schubert as Philly, Dylan Goodwin as Corey, and Jon Pratt as Henry

Henry (Jon Pratt), a successful artist living in New York City, is young, handsome, and bisexual. He’s also a sadistic sociopath and megalomaniacal narcissist who enjoys engaging in psychosexual mind games with his accomplice/victim/girlfriend Philly (Charity Schubert). A striking but troubled young woman, Philly is compelled to continually tear the skin off her right palm, which is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of her psychological problems.

Jon Pratt (above) as Henry and Dylan Goodwin as Corey.

Enter Corey (Dylan Goodwin), an innocent in-the-closet young man from Louisiana, who becomes the focus of Henry’s latest diabolical game/performance-art piece. This sounds like it could be interesting. But the ideas expressed by Mr. Champney are inane, often incoherent; and the script amounts to 90 minutes of uninterrupted, drama-free exposition. His direction doesn’t do his play any favors. And the performances I could only watch with my peripheral vision; I was too embarrassed for the actors to look at them directly.

Charity Schubert (above) as Philly and Dylan Goodwin as Corey.

Mr. Champney, who spoke briefly after the spectacle, seems like a nice, sincere fellow who is visibly passionate about his project, which, according to the press release “was the winner of The Kennedy Center’s National AIDS Fund/CFDA-Vogue Initiative Award for Playwriting and went on to acclaimed productions in San Francisco and Seattle before opening Off-Off Broadway in 2018.” It’s 2024. For six years Dead Brains has been un-dead. It’s time to let it rest in peace.

Jon Pratt (left) as Henry and Dylan Goodwin as Corey.

poster and production photos by Bryan Cash

Dead Brains: A Psychosexual Thriller
Baker Falls and Knitting Factory
Feverdream Lounge at Baker Falls (formerly the Pyramid Club)
101 Avenue A, between 6th & 7th Street in the East Village
Sundays at 7; ends on February 18, 2024 EXTENDED to March 3, 2024
for tickets ($25), visit Baker Falls

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Taytun January 22, 2024 at 8:53 am

The hatred in this review is so passionately vitriolic, I think this guy secretly loved it. Reads like a hit piece and, overall, isn’t a legitimate critique of the production. If anything, it’s perhaps the most “abysmally” irresponsible review ever written.


Timmy January 22, 2024 at 9:53 am

Other than that, Taytun, how did YOU enjoy the play? Isn’t that the point? Instead of bashing the critic, why not give us your take?


Taytun January 26, 2024 at 10:02 am

The point, Timmy, is this writer’s job is to advise potential audiences about productions through clear, critical, intelligent analysis. The production, the actors, the design: no critique. This writer claims to be “too embarrassed” for the actors to even look at them, yet also vividly describes aspects of the story. So, which is it? Did the guy watch it or not? I can’t take this writer seriously when he’s dishing out unprofessional garbage. Scratch that writer part. I meant blogger. No, I haven’t seen the play, but it seems to have struck quite a nerve with this guy. Seems personal to me. I’m not obligated to see a play in order to respond to a “review” that was so obviously written out of malice.


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