Friday, May 19, 2006

SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #7 – Love Song (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL)

SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #7 – Love Song (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL)

Though no song is ever sung, John Kolvenbach’s Love Song deserves to be heard and seen. In fact, it is in essence sweet music for the soul. The production had its world premiere this spring at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, with performances continuing there for a limited time.

Love Song centers around a troubled man in a dark retreat from the world. With delirious precision, Ian Barford plays Beane, whose lonely, depressed existence is punctuated only by his occasional visits with his devoted sister, Joan (portrayed by the lovely Molly Regan) and her often contrarian husband Harry (played by Francis Guinan).

Under Austin Pendleton’s expert direction, Beane’s hapless life appears to take a momentous turn for the better when he meets and falls for Molly, a mystifying woman played with sensual ferocity by Mariann Mayberry (Barford and Mayberry are pictured above). Suddenly, Beane exudes a spring-like buoyancy and emerges from his own personal darkness. Indeed, Beane’s fresh hunger for love and thirst for living initially alarm Joan and Harry. Yet despite their concern, they themselves catch Beane’s contagious love bug, surprising themselves with a newfound level of affection and intimacy of their own.

Long Song provides other crucial twists and turns, but none of them are as touching or as honestly portrayed as the real love ultimately shared between Beane and his sister. Kolvenbach’s expert writing leaves us with the hope that love, whether real or imagined, has the power to reinvigorate and illuminate life itself.

This production moved me so profoundly that I eagerly saw Long Song twice to catch all its subtle nuances. I heartily recommend it. That’s why it is at #7 on my SOB Best of the 2005-06 Theatrical Season list. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a proud member of Steppenwolf's Auxiliary Council Board of Governors)

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #1 - Theater Of The New Ear (Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA) (May 30, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #2 – Guys And Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre, London, UK) (May 26, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #3 – Hedda Gabler (Brooklyn Academy of Music – Harvey Theatre, New York, NY) (May 25, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #4 – A Blameless Life (Steppenwolf Garage, Chicago, IL) (May 24, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #5 – Reeling (The Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN) (May 23, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #6 – “MASTER HAROLD”…And The Boys (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 21, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre, London, UK) (May 18, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #9 - The Well-Appointed Room (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 17, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #10 - Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Eugene O'Neill Theatre, New York, NY) (May 15, 2006)
The SOB Five "Worst" of 2005-06 (May 12, 2006)
SOB's Best and Worst of 2005-06 Theatre Season (May 12, 2006)

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