The first two-thirds of John Kolvenbach’s new play, premiering at Steppenwolf, had me enthralled. A simple fable about Beene (Ian Barford), a depressed slacker reawakened to life by love, and his workaholic sister (Molly Regan), “Love Song” captures the delirious and intoxicating power of infatuation beautifully. Barford swings exuberantly from Brian Sidney Bembridge’s remarkable set, which subtly makes its upper-class apartment simultaneously object of desire and iron cage, while Regan and Francis Guinan delightfully plot to play hooky from their stultifying jobs. But there’s no getting past the regrettable plot twist that essentially takes back the promise of the play’s most exhilarating moments. In a move that was shocking precisely because of its dreary predictability, Kolvenbach cuts the heart out of his play, abandoning the display of life at a higher pitch to dispense well-worn truisms about the power of the imagination. It wouldn’t seem quite so insulting if these truisms didn’t come at the expense of the play’s imagination itself. You could try running the argument that Kolvenbach is brilliantly breaking your own heart along with Beene’s, a sort of meta-level imitative fallacy, but I think that’s a stretch. Regardless, Barford and Regan do brilliant work throughout, connecting in their failure to connect like only siblings can. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.