Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 21, 2009

Love Song

Chester Theatre Company, Chester, MA
through July 26, 2009
by Donna Bailey-Thompson

"Love Song" has a lot going for it. At times it is opaque. At others it is intellectually stimulating or weird or funny or quirky or sad or giddy. Thanks to Artistic Director Byam Stevens, the production meets Chester Theatre's high professional standards. Everything works - casting, set, costumes, lights, sound. For some theatergoers, playwright John Kolvenbach's script eludes labeling. For some it qualifies as contemporary or avant garde. One thing's for sure: it is not what in years past was considered typical summer theatre fare. A simplistic "John Loves Mary" it is not.

However, married couple Joan (Mary Cavett) and Harry (Paul Ricciardi} love each other, and Joan loves her brother Beane (Paden Fallis). Beane is a lost soul, trapped in a sterile, frightening universe. He opens the play, seated stiffly in semi-darkness at a small table, his piercing eyes stare into a void. His rigid body suggests that at the least, he is odd. Suddenly the scene goes to black and at once, another scene begins with Harry badgering Joan for her irrational firing of a summer volunteer who misfiled a folder. Their rat-a-tat-tat dialog prompts scattered laughter and the question: are both brother and sister nuts?

Beane's isolation is interrupted by Molly (Manon Halliburton) who claims to have burglarized his place. Suddenly they are in love. Joan's relief that her brother is happy helps her to relax and to join Harry in playing hooky from work, the play's most cohesively amusing scene. Even so, the scene that rivets is Beane's and Molly's rapidly alternating dialog about the wonderment of their loving feelings.

"Love Song" conveys more questions than answers. The construction of its many scenes varies from a linear story line to a drama class exercise, a workshop, an extemporaneous musing. This is not everyone's cup of tea but for sure, it's provocative.