Monday, March 08, 2010

Not That Glee

Those going to Glee Club hoping to see high school students singing "Don't Stop Believing" should be warned that the play has nothing to do with the TV show. The glee club of Romeo, Vermont is made up of middle-aged men who meet once a week to escape their dreary lives. The play, written by Matthew Freeman and directed by Kyle Ancowitz, runs through April 3 at The Access Theater Gallery.

Ben (Stephen Speights) is the perfectionist leader whose typical words of encouragement include, "Sing pig fuckers. Sing or die." His frustration is somewhat understandable, as he's dealing with the likes of Greg (Carter Jackson), who swears he is dying of cancer even though he has been in remission for 15 years, Mark (Robert Buckwalter), whose cell phone keeps going off as he is in the middle of a divorce, and Paul (Steven Burns), who only opens his mouth to say things like, "Singing this shit is the only thing I do besides fuck around with knives. Don't make that the only thing I do. Don't make me have to explain what happened to a judge." On this particular night, Hank (Tom Staggs) announces that he has given up drinking. The problem--Hank sings better when he's drunk and he's the best singer in the group.

It's a flimsy plot that can barely stretch to the hour-long running time. There are plenty of choice lines delivered skillfully by the cast (especially Burns, almost unrecognizable as Steve from Blue's Clues), but the dialogue becomes far too repetitive as the insults and arguments go around in circles.

The club only practices one song, "The World Will Make You Smile" (written by Speights for the show), which I defy anyone not to hum on the way out. The lyrics are clever--"And even if it's only just an orb absorbing up the lonely, bitter, broke, and homely, pushed into a pile, wait a little while, and the world will make you smile!"--and I would have liked more songs like this, but the repetitiveness does illustrate the futility of the lives of these men. Glee Club will make you smile, even while reminding you that the laughter comes at a price.

Note: I was given complimentary tickets to see the show in exchange for writing a review.


Sheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheryl said...

Your review was dead-on. The actors were skillful & the jokes often funny, but the dialogue, plot, & song were repetitive. Even the characterizations were uni-dimensional, hitting the same miserable note over & over again.

... But I STILL catch myself humming that song. "I went for a walk ..."

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