ATF provides plenty of pleasures through ‘Love Song’

“Love Song,” which was nominated for London’s Olivier Award, is a funny play about grace, that stran
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“Love Song,” which was nominated for London’s Olivier Award, is a funny play about grace, that strange phenomenon we recognize when we experience it but which we usually can’t get out of our own way long enough to be open to.

John Kolvenback’s 90-minute comedy is the first show of Mark Fleischer’s tenure as producing artistic director of ATF. Despite some unevenness in the script and the production, there are plenty of pleasures to make “Love Song” worth your while. Indeed, Friday’s large audience gave it a standing O.

‘Love Song’

WHERE: Adirondack Theatre Festival, Charles Wood Theatre, 207 Glen St., Glens Falls

WHEN: Through June 28

HOW MUCH: $29

MORE INFO: 798-8374

Businesswoman Joan (Kathleen McNenny) would like to clock nearly everyone in her world — her husband, Harry (Kyle Fabel); the lazy office intern; her emotionally stunted brother, Beane (Vincent Allocca). Her only anodyne for such frustration is booze.

Mild-mannered Harry accepts the status quo until the reclusive Beane begins acting more strangely than usual. He’s in love with Molly (Eilis Cahill), and his exuberance, while initially alarming to Joan and Harry, soon provides an element of grace in their lives that revivifies their inert marriage.

In turn, grace touches Beane’s solitary existence, and the play concludes with hope for a once hopeless man.

Hysterical script

The script is slightly absurd and often hysterical. Kolvenback has a terrific ear for language: torrents of words pour out in refreshing combinations. Periodically a lone laugh from the audience reminded me that funny bones come in all sizes, providing many aha! moments.

That’s why a couple of scenes disappoint. The phone business between Harry and Joan is silly, not amusing, and it undercuts the subsequent touching developments.

And the long antiphonal conversation between Beane and Molly, recounting their mutual discoveries, is tedious, made more so, unfortunately, by the actors’ deliveries.

But director Gabriel Barre has made so many right choices. David Esler’s kinetic set and the mood-setting lighting and sound strikingly reinforce the contrasting worlds of Beane and Joan. Befitting the title, apt pop tunes playfully comment on the situations.

Barre has shepherded his Equity actors well. Cahill’s vocal quality is somewhat monochromatic, but her energy in Molly’s opening scene is riotous. Fabel has the toughest part — nebbish — but he delivers Harry’s ironic comments and cavorts with Joan so sweetly that another dimension of his character emerges.

Allocca’s range is considerable. We believe that Beane is tortured, intelligent, creative, and passionate. Occasionally, I felt a lapse in the actor’s focus, but Allocca got the evening’s biggest laugh with a lip-sync to “Loving You.”

McNenny outstanding

McNenny’s performance is a tour de force without upsetting the ensemble work. The actress spews out steely Joan’s big, bullying speeches, but she can strip away Joan’s armor with a well-timed “What?” or gesture of vulnerability. A great part for a great actress.

ATF does only new, daring work. Complement your summer trips to staples like “West Side Story” and “Othello” with one to Glens Falls.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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