Review by Tulis McCall
(18 Apr 2011)
Go see this show. Please – do yourself a favor.
I cannot say enough this show enough. Good writing, good acting, good directing. Ain’t it funny how that is a winning combination of elements?
Joan (Laura Tatreille) and Harry (Ian Barford) have been married for awhile now. They love one another, but life is sort of ordinary except for the way they view it, which is the tiniest bit skewed. Long ago when they were first together, they were probably outrageous. Joan’s brother, Beane, has no one in his life except his sister, and he has her only because they are related. Beane is not stupid, but he is unstable because he is one of those people who can think about something so hard he gets de-railed. When Harry tries a personality test on Beane, the first question is “It’s your birthday and your beloved gives you a gift- wrapped box. Which of the items do you wish is inside: a puppy, a songbird, a bunny or a baby.” Bean’s response is to ask why there is a baby inside a box, and is it oky. As a matter of fact, it takes Beane a long time to accept that the question itself is multiple choice, because he has an answer ready.
That’s how it goes for Beane. He either has an answer or he doesn’t. And if he stumbles upon a question, he finds the experience as overwhelming as a hall of mirrors. Beane lives alone with the minimal amount of stuff – and I mean the minimal – because solitude and minimal surroundings are the absolute most that he can handle in a given day.
These three lives go along, tethered together without much change, until Beane meets Molly (Zoë Winters). Molly is fresh air and bold brushstrokes. She balloons into Beane’s life like a hurricane. And except for the one little problem she brings with her – everything is just great because Bean’s life changes from black and white to Technicolor.
What is extraordinary about this play is the oblique angle that John Kolvenbach takes as his jumping off point. His approach to the landing strip is a little off the straight and narrow, which is a fantastic way for us to see a new perspective. The writing here is precise and economic, and so are each of these splendid actors. Even when a scene runs a tad too long, you stay with it because the actors are so fully invested in what they are doing. This cast is captivating.
Joan and Harry don’t just have a marriage; they have a rich and vibrant electricity that spills over the stage into the audience. Beane is not just a quiet weirdy. He is a starving man looking for a door into the banquet hall where people don’t even speak his language. Molly is a woman with a jetpack that she wouldn’t take off if you paid her millions. Kolvenbach fashions these characters with dialogue that doesn’t sweat the small stuff. There is no extraneous fluff because people don’t need extra words when they know what they mean, and these characters all know what they mean.
Compared to all the gunk that is being slathered on the Broadway boards, Love Song is a rhapsody. It is brilliant and particular work, that’s well done and waiting for you to treat yourself to a night you will treasure.
"Kolvenbach, who also directs, filters his themes through an unpleasant sitcom sensibility and burdens the characters with fakey quirks."
Rachel Saltz for NY Times
"The laughs, however, suddenly stop dead. This is no fault of the actors, all of whom are splendid."
Robert Windeler for Back Stage