Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Authors Paul Scott Goodman (book, music, and lyrics) and Miriam Gordon (book), who are also husband and wife, found inspiration in Goodman's Scottish roots and his experiences as a punk rocker in telling the story of Monica P. Miller (Candice Shedd-Thompson) and Ian Wallace (Matthew Schleigh), who at first seem to have nothing in common but music.
It's 1977 in Glasgow, Scotland. Monica, a college student, is Jewish, upper-middle-class, and determined to become the next Barbra Streisand or Carly Simon. Ian is Catholic, lives with his mother in a run-down part of the city, and spends most of his time isolated in his room with his guitar and a flask of liquor.
Monica and Ian meet when he agrees to write music to her lyrics for an outrageous song they perform at a family friend's bat mitzvah party. He learns about Friday night Shabbat dinners with her family; she learns about the rougher edges of the rock scene. Soon, Monica is setting aside her propulsive power ballads (for example, "Bring the Future Faster") to form a punk duo with Ian, finding success that takes them first to London and then to New York City, where they have a gig at the iconic punk club CBGB. Along the way, they experience the ups and downs of life as "two young punks in love."
The impassioned direction by Thomas W. Jones II showcases both Shedd-Thompson's volcanic emotions and Schleigh's quieter but no less affecting performance. Musical director Matthew Stephens, at the keyboard, leads a rocking ensemble of two guitars, bass and drums.
While Carl Gudenius' spare scenery consists of four chairs, a door frame, and a raised scaffold for the five musicians, it also features several large screens to display Patrick W. Lord's atmospheric projections depicting both interiors and cityscapes. Alexander Keen's lighting design incorporates a bank of concert-style bulbs for onstage scenes and washes of color to suggest the actors' emotional state, and the highlight of Michael Sharp's costumes is the studded leather kilt for Ian and Monica's matching skirt and top for their punk debut.