Love 40

The scary thing about passing the age of 40 is the dreadful anticipation that everything is going to start falling apart. Such is the reality of sitting through a performance of this mundane Stephen and Toni Handcock Downs musical excursion into the lives of four uninteresting 40-plus human angst factories. And as the onslaught of creaky dialogue, pedestrian songs, self-conscious acting, out of tune singing and flubbed lighting cues lurches awkwardly through and around Kenton Jones' laughably unworkable set, there is not a clue as to the directorial point of view of Theresa Larkin.

With:
Teri - Lesley Corne Clare - Theresa Larkin Paul - Eric Love Him - Kevin Skousen

The scary thing about passing the age of 40 is the dreadful anticipation that everything is going to start falling apart. Such is the reality of sitting through a performance of this mundane Stephen and Toni Handcock Downs musical excursion into the lives of four uninteresting 40-plus human angst factories. And as the onslaught of creaky dialogue, pedestrian songs, self-conscious acting, out of tune singing and flubbed lighting cues lurches awkwardly through and around Kenton Jones’ laughably unworkable set, there is not a clue as to the directorial point of view of Theresa Larkin.

The substance of the plot is realized within the first 20 minutes but takes another two hours to resolve itself. Tennis pals Clare (Larkin) and Teri (Lesley Corne) are both relationship deprived but for different reasons. Divorced mother of twins Clare falls mightily for a series of losers (all portrayed by Kevin Skousen) and always ends up spewing her sorrow to an unseen therapist. Never-been-married poet Teri, who has closed herself off from any serious relationship since the death of her idealized lover 10 years earlier, is reluctantly allowing herself to become involved with recently divorced composer Paul (Eric Love).

In their scenes together, Larkin and Corne never achieve any natural conversational flow as the supposedly old and comfortable friends. They project their lines like missiles as if they are more concerned with being heard than being believed. However, both become much more credible when relating to the men in the lives of Clare and Teri.

As she surveys Clare’s love life in song, Larkin is more energetic than musical with “Wait ‘Til You See Him,” “Of Course” and “Oh Lucky Me!.” Corne, who possesses the most pleasant voice in the ensemble, makes the most out of two emotion-filled ballads, “I Like Him” and “Giving a Damn Again.”

The over-the-top Skousen chews up as much scenery as he can find as a sexually ravenous doctor, a country & western warbling accountant and a Gallic-accented bigamist. Skousen, who demonstrates the least vocal ability in the cast, proves it over and over again with such grating, supposedly comical ditties as “The Single Life,” “You’re the Cigarette Burn,” “I’ve Seen That Face Before” and “My Perfect Woman.”

Love’s Paul manages to transcend the self-conscious dialogue. The Paul/Teri scenes are poignant, and despite occasional pitch problems, he offers effective vocal outings on three of the shows more worthy songs, “Where in the World” (with Corne), “I Care About You” and “I’m So Sad to See You Going.”

Though esteemed dancer/choreographer Kay Cole is listed as choreographer, there is no discernible choreography in the show, except for the actors’ impromptu attempts not to trip over Jones’ set pieces, which appear to be haphazardly strewn throughout the theater. And one of the more entertaining but inadvertent aspects to the production is the ongoing improvised dialogue attempting to cover the fact that the lights have not come up on a scene.

Love 40

Hudson Avenue Theater; 99 seats; $25 top

Production: The Artists' Collective in association with Hands Down Prods. present "Love 40," a musical play in two acts, music and lyrics by Stephen Downs, book by Toni Handcock Downs and Stephen Downs, directed by Theresa Larkin. Reviewed June 25

Cast: Teri - Lesley Corne Clare - Theresa Larkin Paul - Eric Love Him - Kevin SkousenMusical director/pianist, Colin Freeman; choreography, Kay Cole. Set design, Kenton Jones; lighting design, Yuki Uehara; sound design, Srdjan Popovic; costumer, Goreti de Silva. Opened June 19, runs until July 18. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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