From the first implausible conversation to the last melodramatic moment, Workhaus Collective’s Music Lovers is inert, talking itself into a cerebral morass with one plodding gab session after another, populated by figures who, devoid of anything resembling dimension, mouth a series of convenient, expedient quips for no other reason than that playwright Alan M. Berks put words on the page and, therefore, they wound up on the stage. Nothing actually transpires, except a great deal of holding forth about personal philosophies and frustrated libidos.
|music lovers, playing through march 27 at the playwrights’ center. for tickets ($8-$15) and information, see workhauscollective.org|
At a club, right before a gig, bass player Domingo sits across the table from James, a woman apparently with time on her hands and an inclination to hear his band. The two chat it up in what no one could mistake for a realistic exchange, then are joined by the band’s bombastic manager and, later, by lead singer Courtney, who personifies the hackneyed cliché of an irresponsible, self-indulgent, legend-in-his-own-mind, would-be rock star. He, too, fails to utter a natural-sounding sentence. When the act closes, nothing so concrete as a story has begun. Only in the second act do we realize we’ve come upon a romantic triangle, one about which it is difficult to care. Unfortunately, it’s also one that gets dragged out for another two acts.
The script has little to do with music, as no one plays or sings so much as a line or a verse, let alone a song; and less to do with lovers, as the interactions among the characters are about as passionate as a bowl of potatoes fresh out of the refrigerator. Characters are still explaining themselves right up to, and including, the stillborn climax, by which point they should have stopped telling and started showing.
In the cast are capable actors Randy Reyes, Nathan Christopher, Jean Wolff, Skyler Nowinksi, and Lindsay Marcy, who does her best to afford the role of James a sense of spirited animation. Marcy, though, is given a character who’s full of imagined angst rather than heartfelt emotion—who, indeed, lacks any true substance. Berks also directs and isn’t much better at that than he is at playwriting, milking scenes by having his actors go through histrionics to give the impression the characters are going through important experiences. Trite, stilted, and terminally contrived, Music Lovers is a play you can afford to miss.