Regional Reviews: Cincinnati
Two of Cincinnati's more intriguing and up-and-coming theater companies, Know Theatre of Cincinnati and New Stage Collective, are currently presenting a co-production of the funny and touching Songs From An Unmade Bed. The show chronicles the myriad of emotions felt by a young gay man seeking love, lust and meaning in modern-day New York City, and is aptly described in the program as part one-man show, part art song cycle, and part pop-concert.
Songs From An Unmade Bed was created using the unique approach of having one lyricist, Mark Campbell, write the words to each song, with music from eighteen different composers, one for each number. The result is a cohesive journey of a single character where many dimensions and emotions associated with urban dating are conveyed through varying musical styles and approaches. The songs by these composers, which include Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), Steve Marzullo and Jenny Giering, contain unexpected melodies with interesting, yet accessible, musical turns. Mr. Campbell's lyrics are intelligent and witty, and they effectively communicate the heightened feelings that are often associated with love and relationships: frustration, excitement, humor, anger and (thankfully) hope. Song highlights include "Perfect, Finite" (music by Chris Miller); "Exit Right" (music by Steven Lutvak), which is a funny Broadway ode (with many familiar showtune rifts) to dating an actor; "I Want To Go Out Tonight" (music by Brendan Milburn); "He Never Did That Before" (music by Debra Barsha), which examines the happiness and doubting fear of wondering how a lover learned a new sexual technique; and "Our Separate Ways" (music by Stephen Hoffman).
Alan Patrick Kenny is ideal in portraying the nameless character in this show. Even though he is almost constantly seated behind a piano accompanying himself (with the talented help of Brodie Johnson on cello and Fletcher Kaufman on percussion), Mr. Kenny doesn't seem limited by this extra responsibility in acting out the many emotions of the role. Through his body language, facial expressions and vocals, Kenny is able to wonderfully communicate the brokenhearted pain, comedic and biting sarcasm, and tenderness found within the material. His steady and pleasant vocals are delivered clearly throughout, and are just right for the songs.
Songs From An Unmade Bed is an entertaining show that challenges theatergoers by exploring the universal sacrifices and benefits of loving and giving ourselves to another, regardless of age, sexual preference, time or location. Alan Patrick Kenny gives a first-rate performance that is a comfortable fit for the material in every way. The first week of the run of the co-production performed at Know Theatre's Underground space has seen light attendance due to bad weather and competition from the Super Bowl on opening night. However, local audiences in search of a fun night out should find a way to catch this piece before it completes its run on February 14, 2007. Visit www.newstagecollective.com/unmadebed.htm or www.knowtheatre.com/Shows/Underground/SongsFromAnUnmadeBed.shtml for more information and tickets.-- Scott Cain