Review | The Song Of Summer: a trifle confusing, but great fun

Dustin Bronson in THE SONG OF SUMMER. Photo by Rich Ryan.

The pre-show publicity for Mixed Blood Theatre‘s production of Lauren Yee‘s clutch-popper The Song Of Summer (running through Nov 24) makes the point explicitly: Lauren Yee = God. Beshowered with grant money, with dozens of productions amounting to a national Yee festival. This woman is a one-person theater movement.

So imagine my disappointment when I discovered The Song Of Summer to be poorly structured, stuttering along in fits and starts, confusing, repetitive. The articles call her “prolific.” Maybe this is the problem.

The Song Of Summer is about the return to his home town, or at least to a town where he spent a great deal of quality time (the play is unclear here), of Robbie, a one hit wonder rock star. Robbie visits his ex-piano teacher, strikes up a friendship with Tina, his ex-girlfriend, deals with his agent, Joe, who arrives to fetch him back to Carolina (or is it New York?).

So I found The Song Of Summer confusing. So what. I am easily confused. No longer, as I once was, the sharpest tool in the shed. Feel free to ignore me.

And there are real pleasures in The Song Of Summer. It zips right along, and it’s funny! Really funny. Great credit goes to director Addie Gorlin on both counts. She directs The Song Of Summer with intelligence and gusto. Brava.

And the performances thrill. As Robbie, Dustin Bronson, is goofy and focused, with a charming poop-eating grin, running away from something, but he doesn’t know what it is, and we don’t care. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s wonderful.

Also wonderful are Elyse Ahmad as Robbie’s lovingly angry (or should it be angrily loving?) girlfriend, who struggles to get a rise out of Robbie (and sometimes succeeds); Maggie Pistner as the pj-wearing piano teacher, cheerfully descending into a new identity as a hoarder; Gavin Lawrence as the charmingly smarmy agent.

The work of these artists makes The Song Of Summer worthwhile.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. John’s The Voice Of The Prairie has been performed 100 plus times and ditto Minnesota Moon and his adaptation of Sideways Stories From Wayside School. His The Summer Moon won a Kennedy Center Award For Drama. John has won fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and from the National Endowment For The Arts. Please visit his informational website.


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