Monday, November 23, 2009

New Review Posted: Rewind

Centerstage just posted my new review of Rewind at the side project. Here's the text:

Music is very different from the music business — indeed the art of music itself is almost incidental to the maneuvering, betrayal and commercialism involved in getting it recorded and sold. The biggest problem with Laura Eason's "Rewind" is that until the last few scenes, the excitement of making and hearing music is barely a factor, subordinated to a rather joyless tale of betrayal and hurt feelings. Though the setting — Chicago's indie scene in the '80s and '90s — is rarely portrayed onstage, the play's plot points are familiar. But without a sense of why the characters keep making music instead of leaving for a less brutal field, the evening becomes a rather dreary trip down a road we've all traveled before.

The play, whose 17 scenes go backwards from 1998 to 1981, opens with Noah (Zack Buell) and Elisha (Cyd Blakewell) finding the body of their former friend and bandmate, the brilliant guitarist Jim (Chip Davis). As the show goes on, we see the events that got them to that sad place.

There are some really interesting ideas in play, including what it's like to be in the orbit of a genius, the compromises made on the way to success, and the toxic combination of personal and professional grievances. And some scenes in the early sections are quite strong; a fight backstage at a concert is riveting. (Director Anna C. Bahow stages the show dynamically throughout, and has a keen eye for how to use the side project's tiny space.) But after a few scenes, the contour of the plot is obvious, and there are few surprises. It's a shame, because Eason has a real skill for dialogue, and the play has the potential to be genuinely moving. But without any changes in tone or surprises in plot, the unrelieved unhappiness comes off as dull instead.

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