Behind Behind the Music

This workshop premiere of Oliver Mayer's new play, Bold As Love, is a coup for the Cypress College Department of Theatre and Dance. Mayer wrote the powerful Blade to the Heat, but there's not much of that play's punch here.

Four friends eager to prove they're not queer—they're a little Rat Pack, minus the money and successful womanizing—form a band. They're not interested in making a statement or even writing cool music; they just want to get laid.

You've seen this all before: the four friends—a virtual rainbow coalition, with members white, black, Asian and Latino—form a band, run into trouble with women and drugs, and bottom out. It's VH1's Behind the Music.

If homosexual panic isn't enough to drive them to success, they also get a vicious dressing-down from the arrogant Jimmy Edgars (an absorbing performance by guest artist L. Kenneth Richardson). The blues singer's disdain for their music and lust for their business manager give them the drive to do well just so they can tell a star to fuck off.

If we could hear that the band had talent—and not just be told that they do—the foursome might have us cheering them on. But in this plodding production, director Mark Majarian's actors aren't musicians. They can't sing and seem to have only the most rudimentary understanding of their instruments—facts that make it difficult to accept the paint-by-numbers story line.

Mayer has the beginnings of something here, but the story isn't the one he thinks it is. Forget the band and hone the more compelling Edgars scenes into a play about his rise and decline, showcasing Richardson's considerable talents. A message would help, too. This play's gratuitously repeated, U.S. Army-issue "Be who you are" doesn't qualify.

Bold As Love at Cypress College, 9200 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 484-7200. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. $12.


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