by: Susan Hasho
Performed at the Drom Lounge as part of the NY Fringe Festival, Love Is Like Mud is a lite rock/semi-country-sounding rock operetta written by Ben Folstein. Centering on the dating lives of two young people and their subsequent relationship in New York City, it follows a pretty predictable plot. What is unusual is that all the actors are clothed in brightly painted, wooden paper doll cutouts held up by straps around the neck. The colors and details on the short-sleeve shirts for the men, and dresses and tops for the women are colorful and fun. And, there is a screen up stage showing a film throughout illustrating in Claymation all the rooms and environments where the action takes place—the furniture, the paint on the walls, the subway, etc.—an imaginative and unusual way to create a set. (Production design: Birdhouse Studios, Projection design: Alex Koch)
The two main players Jon (Gavin Rohrer) and Anne (Taylor Kate Manns) are supported by friends and Jon’s parents all played by Jay Liebowitz and Elise Reynard. The parents are a Jewish stereotype and the friends are brash and stoner-like.
To continue, the story line: two kids meet in NYC, fall in love, fall out of love, and miss each other, and get back together—all in a very hip way. Everyone in the cast is very talented and game to have a good time with this piece. But the music is one-note and unmemorable, and the lyrics can be sweet and clever but not consistently. The band is fabulous (Guitar: Benjamin Folstein, Bass: Peter Van Leeuwen, Sax: Jerry Weimer and Chris Bacas/Justin Wood, Drums: Julian Rowe/Nic Fera). www.fringenyc.com