33 to Nothing

By Grant James Varjas. Dir. John B. Good. With Varjas, Preston Clarke. Bottle Factory Theater (see Off-Off Broadway).

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IN A JAM Rockers Gruss, left, and Forman play loud.

IN A JAM Rockers Gruss, left, and Forman play loud.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Breaking up is hard to do. That goes double if you’re a band. And as anyone from Fleetwood Mac or ABBA could tell you, busting up romantically while breaking up as a band is difficult on an intergalactic scale. So when the rock combo in Grant James Varjas’s adorable 33 to Nothing starts pulling apart during a vodka-fueled rehearsal, we know the five bandmates are in for a hard day (and the attendant hard night).

Grey (Varjas) has suffered a lot of loss, and he isn’t coping gracefully. Recently dumped by his awesome boyfriend Brian (a magnetic Clarke), and even more recently evicted, Grey tries to keep control of his band, which still includes Brian as lead guitarist. Varjas’s script surrounds Grey with dear, clever friends (including Amanda Gruss and Ken Forman), all of whom would help the man-cub if he could just communicate honestly. But as practice wears on, Grey insists on throwing tantrums and beer cans, wearing everybody out.

Still, they rock together pretty darn well in the real-time rehearsal we see. Since Varjas and his team are disciples of Tom Noonan’s Dogme 95--style school of theater, the actors all play their own instruments—some capably, some magnificently. Scrupulously unstudied sets and lighting also aim for total realism, perfectly serving the script’s casual, throwaway-funny dialogue. And for once, here’s a show about an imaginary band that makes you want to buy a real CD. Pity they broke up; bring on the reunion tour.—Helen Shaw

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