City Love Song

  • Date:
    May 1, 2011

    Review by Tulis McCall

    Jack Finnegan is a story teller, more than that, he is an epic story teller. City Love Song is reminiscent of great epic poems. For the first half Finnegan, a lover of trains, takes us on a railroad tour of the U.S., and by the end of this part of the tale he will seduce you into the rhythm of the track.

    And I am betting that most of the people in the audience have not visited more than a few of his many stops on that journey. And in an odd way, Finnegan’s accuracy and poetry will make it unnecessary for you to do so.

    Poor Cleveland, sitting there dormant on the edge of Lake Erie. She greets you with a tired face, and makes little conversation.

    We’ll stop off in Toledo, which is to say 1975, judging by the bus depot.

    Detroit, once popular, a glamorous sister who fell by the wayside while we were watching….we say to each other It’s terrible and say to ourselves It’s her problem.

    Walking the streets of Chicago is like walking the house of a friend: not everything there is for you but you feel like you have access to just about all of it.

    The second half of his show is a walking tour of New York – where you can circle the world for two bucks and a quarter - well not all of it. Just the southern tip, lower East Side up to Herald Square and Times Square, then back out to Brooklyn. As you know, if you live here, New York is always open and always waiting. If you want to be depressed, you must stay home in your apartment because once you step out onto the street your full attention is required. New York will hand you one gift after another and doesn’t care if you are ready to receive or not. Finnegan gives the lower part of the island the same poetic once over that he gives the country.

    Finnegan is also charming and enthusiastic. It is difficult not to be won over by him. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a play. It is an engaging performance that doesn’t amount to much other than a well executed travelogue. But that is not such a bad thing. The drawback, other than the fact that Finnegan’s blocking excludes 25% of the audience to his left, is that we never settle in anywhere, so what is intended as a narrative is more like a drive-by. I would be interested to hear what happens to Finnegan when he stays put for a few days or even weeks. I imagine he could dig deep as well as paint a wide swath if given the challenge.

    And Mr. Finnegan’s plans are ambitious as well. He is taking his narrative to 13 cities around the world. Why? Because the world is out there, and Finnegan is a bundle of energy waiting to be shot out of a cannon. The world is his roulette wheel, and where he will land nobody knows.

    (Tulis McCall)