Theater:Comedy Review: Love Song

Love Song
Through Oct. 25 at Mad Cow Theatre
105 S. Magnolia Ave.

Joan and Harry love to talk, or rather argue, or maybe bicker – call it what you will. It seems to be the glue that holds their marriage together. In fact, Harry cautions his wife that if he agreed with her on anything, their conversation (and all that goes along with their staid, upper middle-class life) might come to an abrupt end. So they talk, and they argue, and they bicker.

Joan has a brother, Beane, who is mostly silent. He lives alone in a bleak apartment and when he turns on the light, he says his room gets darker. He distrusts words, other people and more often than not, his own inner self. He is sweet, intelligent, harmless and nuts.

When an equally strange woman, Molly, enters his apartment and his life, Beane, because of his love for her, begins to taste the beauty of existence. His elation is contagious, nudging his uptight sister and brother-in-law into reigniting their physical passions and childlike playfulness.

This is the action of John Kolvenbach's bittersweet romantic comedy on the nature of love, appropriately titled Love Song. It has been given an affectionate and competent production at the Mad Cow Theatre, directed by Michael Marinaccio.

Through the character of Beane, playwright Kolvenbach wishes us to understand that being in love is an end in and of itself, delighting the lover and opening him or her up to other earthly delights – regardless of whether or not the object of his affection is present, deserving or even real. As Beane's vision of himself and his world expands, he becomes more attached to the notion of happiness as a viable alternative to his former cloistered and insular semi-existence.

With healthy doses of comedy, crisp dialogue and lively characters, Love Song is an easily digested evening, even at its uninterrupted two-hour length. Where Kolvenbach errs is in his ungainly mixing of genres; scenes shift from situation-comedy banter to surreal dream choreography to soap opera meta-talk. And often the playwright seems to be in love with his own language to the detriment of the work's tempo.

But Marinaccio's cast is first-rate, wringing the very most from Kolvenbach's script. Lauren Maleski and Christian Kelty are engaging and believable as Joan and Harry; Alexis Jackson makes a charmingly roguish Molly; and Joshua Geoghagan is terrific as Beane, giving a moving and anguished portrayal of a wounded soul, stretching itself heroically to reach the light and forcing it to make his world brighter.


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