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Review: 'Love Song' at Rude Guerrilla Theater Company

January 15, 2009 |  3:15 pm

Lovesongs5_2 "I think a person can have you at gunpoint whether or not they have a gun," says the hero of "Love Song." That contains the crux of John Kolvenbach's 2006 reverie on the redemptive potential of human contact, which affably opens Rude Guerrilla Theater Company's 12th (and final) season in Santa Ana.

Perhaps best known for his searing "On an Average Day," Kolvenbach's style combines naturalism with skewed wit, and "Love Song" is certainly quirky. It concerns Beane (Alex Walters), a near-agoraphobic tollbooth clerk in the big city. Overworked Joan (Melita Sagar), his upscale sister, and Harry (Joe Hernandez), her diffident husband, have concerns about Beane's failure to connect, though their marital example isn't exactly vibrant.

But then wan Beane enters his dark apartment to encounter burglar Molly (Jami McCoy), who takes his few pitiful possessions and takes him to task for his pathetic life. The catalytic relationship that develops revitalizes Beane and gives Joan and Harry's marriage a randy boost by default. This being a romantic comedy, there's a catch, and that's all I'm saying.

It's more mainstream fare than one associates with Rude Guerrilla, which recently announced it will close and reconstitute into two new entities come September. Yet director Jenni Dillon gives the proceedings an edgy spark, and her cast plays well together. Walters and McCoy, who could do their respective hangdog and caustic roles in their sleep, make appealing attracted opposites. Sagar's crisp comic chops are hilarious, and Hernandez counters being a shade too young with wryly timed reactions.

The chief liabilities are the script's slightness, more New Yorker novella than play, and a narrative arc that won't enchant exacting viewers. Those who enjoyed such films as "Lars and the Real Girl" or "Punch-Drunk Love," however, may leave this low-key fable wearing a goofy grin.

— David C. Nichols

"Love Song," Rude Guerrilla Theater Company, 202 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. 8 p.m. Fridays, 4:30 p.m. Saturdays. Ends Jan. 31. $20. (714) 547-4688. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Photo of Melita Sagar and Joe Hernandez in "Love Song." Credit: Jay M. Fraley.