By John Quinn
John Kolvenbach’s comedy, “Love Song,” is a deceptive little work. Superficially it appears a run-of-the mill, boy-meets-girl retread. Yet under a layer of outrageous characters and an overreliance on obscenity and repetition for comic effect, there is a powerful exploration of the human condition and it greatest motivation – the need to love and be loved. It’s getting an outing at Broadway Onstage in Eastpointe.
Premiering in 2006 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, “Love Song” is a comic challenge of reality. It moves between the reclusive, depressed Beane (John Arden McClure) and his sister and her husband, Joan and Harry (Beth Duey and Ed Schneider), a stressed couple who may be too busy to offer Beane any real help. Beane comes home to his bleak, Spartan flat to find it has been burglarized. What’s more, the burglar is still there. Molly is one more oddball character to add to actress Sharron Nelson’s resume; she has played a number of them for Broadway Onstage. Molly has stayed to confront the hapless Beane for not having anything worth stealing. Molly is not so much cat-burglar as revolutionary, using theft as a personal vendetta against the system. Beane is smitten. Finding the free spirit, Molly brings him out of his shell, and his exuberance rubs off on Joan and Harry.
The second act opens to an offbeat scene that sets the theme for the play. The newly emancipated Harry and Joan play “hooky” from work and rekindle their waning romance. The love play is exactly that – “play.” They indulge in imaginary cigarettes, imaginary booze, imaginary drugs and have a ball doing it. The question arises: Are the things that make us happy necessarily real? Or can we will ourselves to happiness?
While the tempo sometimes flags in this production, it helps an audience catch up with the tremendous amount of material to digest. Under the direction of Dennis Wickline, the cast brings a competence and certainty to the characters, each nicely tapping into a wealth of subtext. In addition, the split-personality set, presumably Mr. Wickline’s design, is an apt metaphor for the rather schizophrenic characters appearing on it.
If “Love Song” is not a great play, it’s a good enough play. One can’t be reminded often enough of the transformative power of love. The Broadway Onstage production is a diverting evening of entertainment.
Broadway Onstage, 21517 Kelly Rd., Eastpointe. Friday-Saturday through Oct. 8. $16. 586-771-6333. http://www.broadwayonstage.com