Playwright John Kolvenbach likes simple things and simple things inspired the play Love Song, which premiered in 2006 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. That simple thing was a record player Kolvenbach purchased on eBay. The writer, now 42, found himself listening to LPs from his teens, twenties and early thirties. He spent a lot of time with the piano-laced tunes from Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue (“a really raw, sad break-up album”) and Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby (especially the confessional title tune, written by Tom Waits). Kolvenbach wanted to write about different kinds of love. “Filial love, romantic love, the kind of love that exists in a marriage that has gone stale, love as a kind of contagion and love as a kind of disease,” he says. “I wanted to write a fable about romantic love and whether it is illusory, whether we create the ‘other’ — as it were, our partners.”
His play focuses on an oddball named Beane, a tollbooth worker who has exiled himself from life and become a hermit. His well-meaning sister tries to bring him out of his shell, but he digs in his antisocial heels. Then he falls in love with Molly, a woman who burglarizes his home. Much to his sister’s mystification and concern, he becomes happier, and his state of mind affects his career-obsessed sister and her troubled marriage.
Love Song, presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, continues Tuesday-Sunday through Nov. 21. Read a full review here.