The Undeniable Sound of Right Now

 

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By: Sandi Durell

 

Living in the past can oft times be comforting but makes for difficult times when circumstances and people have changed with the passage of time. This is the premise of Laura Eason’s newest play at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Women’s Project Theater. And this is surely not your everyday family. Hank (an intensely caring and volatile Jeb Brown – Beautiful) has been running his legendary rock club (John McDermott set design) in an old run down Chicago building for the past 25 years. It’s now 1992 and his daughter Lena (sweet, savvy Margo Seibert – Rocky) is a grown up young lady whom he cuddled in his arms when his drug addicted wife left them. She knows the business and the score almost as well as her dad.

Hank was part of the musical cultural revolution, a guitarist in the 70s, opening Hank’s Bar where he housed some of the great rock bands of the era, garnering his reputation. Hank also hates DJs.

Working at the bar with Hank and Lena is young Toby (cuddly Brian Miskell – The Hill Town Plays) who does the tech and who also has a crush on Lena. He has introduced a hip, rising young DJ, Nash (too smart for his own good Daniel Abeles – Where We’re Born), to Lena and, after some preliminary verbal sparring, they hit it off. But when Hank walks in on them rolling around on the club floor, he and Nash engage in another type of sparring as Nash challenges Hank’s world.

The club is no longer attracting the name bands and money isn’t flowing as it used to. In fact the landlord’s son Joey (mean-spirited Chris Kipiniak – Macbeth) is on their tails to pay the rent and threatening even more since Hank never had a lease. Hank has a divorced wife Bette (gutsy earthy broad, Lusia Strus – Enron) with whom he still has a relationship, who lives in an upstairs apartment and raised Lena from infancy. She and Lena are very close.

As Lena falls for Nash and sees the handwriting on the wall, she cajoles and bitches until Hank relents, allowing Nash a Monday night to perform in an empty warehouse attached to the club, bringing in 8 DJs and 2000 young people, willing to pay the entrance fee, and raising $30,000. He’s smart and has a new kind of style. Hank’s temper flares with jealousy and rage as he rejects the change that is happening in his musical world, trying to protect his daughter from what he sees as trouble.

There are musical solo moments of angst when Hank picks up a guitar and plays some maddening rifts, losing himself in the sounds of the Woodstock days of his world, unable to come to grips with the realities of how music has moved on. Lena, a smart cookie, attempts to save her dad and his bar by orchestrating a plan with Nash to continue bringing in money to buy the building. But plans are not always brought to fruition, as relationships and her future are pitted one against the other.

Laura Eason (Sex With Strangers) has written a compellingly funny and heart-filled play about people and change with a stand-out cast, vividly directed by Kirsten Kelly, that is running thru May 2nd at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, in the West Village. www.rattlestick.org

*Photos: Sandra Coudert

 

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