Beane doesn’t have much and doesn’t want more.
“Sometimes a sweater tells you you’re Visible, when maybe that’s not the case,” he says. “Glasses and candlesticks tell you to expect a party, and in my experience there’s not a party. I don’t want to have a fork if it’s gonna lie to me.”
He says this to Molly, a young woman he finds burglarizing his barren apartment in John Kolvenbach’s quirky but affirming “Love Song,” Hudson Stage’s spring production, at Woodward Hall on the Pace University campus in Briarcliff Manor through May 8.
Beane may not have expectations, but Molly certainly does.
Everyone has things, she tells him. They may not keep them out in the open, but everyone has a closet containing things of sentimental value.
Where, she asks, is Beane’s closeted sentiment?
“Love Song” concerns Beane, his sister, Joan, her husband, Harry. And Molly.
It’s about love’s power to transform, wherever one finds it. When Beane encounters love, it changes everything, heightening his senses, turning a turkey sandwich into an epiphany, perfume into a revelation. Love songs finally make sense. His every synapse is firing.
As Hudson Stage audiences have come to expect, director Dan Foster’s “Love Song” cast is first-rate in this winning production.
Christopher Domig brings a wounded quality to Beane, a man who steps out of his dark life and into the light. As he taps into his reservoir of sentiment — it turns out Beane had one, after all — Domig finds shades of emotion that are deep and complex, flashes of feeling that play in his eyes.
Judith Hawking establishes her character, Joan, as brittle and unfeeling but she layers on moments of tenderness that are endearing, kind of like a longshoreman who knits.
The character Harry is in good hands with Kurt Rhoads, well-known to local audiences as a fixture at the summer-long Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison.
Harry is the voice of reason here, able to hold his own in the rat-a-tat give-and-take that constitutes conversation with Joan while showing sensitivity in moments with Beane. Rhoads’ comic timing is excellent.
Aubyn Philabaum plays just the right mix of menace, accusation and charm as Molly, a character who is not what she appears.
The playwright, Kolvenbach, grew up in Mount Kisco and graduated from Fox Lane High School.
He has an ear for rapid-fire comic dialogue that doesn’t feel jokey, and he mines darker moments for their emotional payoff.
A scene where Harry convinces Joan to call in sick is particularly funny and goes right to character: Harry is easygoing and natural; Joan stiff and uncomfortable. By the scene’s end, Rhoads and Hawking build to a moment of truth, when husband and wife put down the fun and see each other for who they are, and what they can be to each other.
A scene where Molly and Beane discuss how love has changed them takes on a change in tone. It’s more poetic, but Kolvenbach can only take so much of this. When the metaphors get too convoluted, he has Molly say so.
Andreea Mincic’s set carves Beane’s hovel out of Joan’s well-appointed apartment. It’s an interesting choice, one that blurs the line between reality and fantasy.
Andrew Gmoser’s lighting design plays a key role in one particular scene, when Kolvenbach takes an otherwise quirky romantic comedy and turns it on its head, making us re-think what we’ve seen. Even if you know what’s coming — and you’re not going to learn that here — you still might find yourself looking for clues as you replay scenes in your mind.
Foster directs briskly but without haste, allowing the cast to take time with key moments and to play all of the colors in Kolvenbach’s artful story.
“Love Song” is played without intermission and runs about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The twists of Kolvenbach’s tale might be unexpected, but the quality of the work on stage through May 8 isn’t.
There’s plenty to love about this “Love Song.”
What: “Love Song,” by John Kolvenbach
Where: Hudson Stage, Woodward Hall Theatre at Pace University, 235 Elm Road, Briarcliff Manor.
When: Weekends through May 8. Performances are 8 p.m. April 30, May 1, 7, 8; 3 p.m. April 25, May 2 and 8. Q&A follows the May 2 matinee.
Tickets: $30; $25 seniors and students; $20 to those with a Pace ID. General admission. Discounts for groups.
Photo by Gerry Goodstein/Hudson Stage: The cast of “Love Song” at Hudson Stage is, from left: Aubyn Philabaum, Christopher Domig, Judith Hawking and Kurt Rhoads. Dan Foster directs.