Romantic Poetry

LOVE HURTS Actors who shall remain nameless eagerly await their exits

LOVE HURTS Actors who shall remain nameless eagerly await their exits Photograph: Joan Marcus

Time Out Ratings :

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

I have sometimes wondered just how bad a show would have to be to merit a zero-star rating. Now I know, and it is a terrible knowledge. John Patrick Shanley and Henry Krieger’s ludicrous new musical, Romantic Poetry, is a garish failure on every level. I will not bore you with details of Shanley’s inane and incoherent story, since I have already been bored enough for the both of us. I will not describe the supremely tacky set, except to note that it has a shiny white ramp and a dash of zebra print. Nor will I name the floundering actors, out of consideration for them and their families.

Shanley is the author of Moonstruck and Doubt; one had reason to look forward to his foray into musical theater. But please consider these selections from Shanley’s libretto. Two men serenade a woman on a balcony: “His ache it is heinous / He touches his penis.” A woman imagines herself as a chanteuse: “There’s a nightclub in my shoe / And I go there when I’m blue.” Two characters commiserate about economic injustice: “No one listens to the poor / No one listens to the poor / No one listens to the poor / Though they’re right there at the door.” In a more honorable world, the entire board of Manhattan Theatre Club would resign in disgrace for presenting such bilge, and charging $85 to see it. Bizarrely, a cutout silhouette, its head tilted upward, appears at the back of the stage during the show’s frenetic finale—an outline that might as well be that of the playwright himself. For this, sadly, is the image of Shanley that Romantic Poetry leaves you with: a shadow of himself, staring dumbly into nothing.

Manhattan Theatre Club. Book and lyrics by John Patrick Shanley. Music by Henry Krieger. Dir. Shanley. With ensemble cast. 1hr 55mins. One intermission.