Wednesday, January 20, 2010

POW! (Play Of The Week)

Love Song
by John Kolvenbach

"I saw all this Living. …through my peephole I watched them skipping down the hall, and I wondered what kind of shoes they wore to want things so much… I didn’t understand them, playing hopscotch and writing formulas, building ships from kits and taking walks…They scared me, Harry…"

Play of the Week is hard. Throughout the year hundreds of new plays from publishers around the world land first at the Drama Book Shop. Every month dozens of new titles overflow our celebrated wall of new plays. We’re also home to thousands of plays written over millennia. An entire art form wraps around our walls. To choose one can induce paralysis.

This is your lucky week. In his astonishing play, Love Song, John Kolvenbach investigates the subject of love through two couples and a waiter. The central character is Beane, an exile from life who lives alone with a cup and a spoon in a dim studio apartment where the walls are literally closing in. He’s the despair of his strident but loving older sister, Joan, and her too rational husband, Harry, who’ve amassed the trappings and attendant neuroses of successful professionals. Beane works in government—in a toll booth. One night he arrives home to be waylaid by Molly, a violent young woman whose bent for destruction attacks Beane’s defenses at fake gunpoint. As she attempts to kick- box Beane into sex and love, she’s like the life force on steroids. Molly plunges Beane, Joan and Harry into hilarious turmoil and chaos. These are characters you’d follow to the end of the earth.

Playwriting is hard. Yet Kolvenbach makes it appear effortless. He uses the elements of stagecraft with tremendous skill to create a world as authentic as it is fantastic. He shows rather than tells. The play unfolds with intense theatricality—the magical things that only theatre can do. A light cue can scare you to death. Simple objects reveal great complexity—a wine glass, turkey sandwich, stolen hotel bathrobe, take on layers of meaning, and at times, poetry.

Love is hard. The play is rich with meaning and the cultural provenance of the author’s unique imagination. Images abound from the Bible to Beckett and back. Love Song reveals almost infinite kinds of love—of siblings, couples, pets, strangers, self, life. Love begets tyranny, grace, lust, joy and loss. It lays siege to the senses and the self. Beane awakens to sensations and words he’s never before imagined—food, smells, water, light, heat, suffering, savagery. And love creates a river of language that surges forth when Beane finally discovers something worth articulation. Without an ounce of sentimentality, Kolvenbach’s razor wit and lack of cynicism combine to lacerate the heart.

To reveal the ending would be a felony. But who is Molly? Is she real? What must Beane sacrifice to join the human race? Love Song will hold you captive and leave you shaken. Hell may be other people but it’s not as deep as the hell that’s empty.

Cast: 2 men, 2 women. Beane and Molly, 20s; Joan and Harry, 30s, Harry doubles as the waiter.

Scenes/Monologues: Hilarious, touching, career-making scenes and monologues. Scenes: Joan, Harry and Beane; Beane and Molly; Beane and Joan; Joan and Harry. Monologues: Joan, Beane, Molly.

Recommended by: Helen

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