Review: Love Song, a Quirky Rom-Com by Remy Bumppo, Shows Us That Love Can Be Magical

Beane is a bit peculiar. He doesn’t seem to enjoy life. His apartment attacks him. He answers questions before they’re asked or doesn’t answer at all. But once Beane meets Molly, life opens up. He relishes the taste of a turkey sandwich. He enjoys wine and conversation. And his sister and brother-in-law seem to enjoy life more too.

Beane, played by Terry Bell, is the central character in John Kolvenbach’s play Love Song, now being staged by Remy Bumppo Theatre. Artistic director Marti Lyons directs this sweet, peculiar rom-com.

Beane lives alone and lonely in a small apartment where sometimes the lights flicker ominously and the walls seem to move in on him. (Or maybe it’s our imagination.) His sister Joan (Sarah Coakley Price) is the one person who can connect Beane with reality. She and her husband Harry (Ryan Hallahan), both corporate climbers, live in a large apartment with an expansive view of nearby high-rise living, plus a peek at the lakefront. 

Ryan Hallahan, Terry Bell and Sarah Coakley Price. Photo by Nomee Photography.

But one night Beane comes home and finds that his apartment has been invaded by Molly (Isa Arciniegas), who has stolen his clothes and his other meager possessions. She’s aggressive and Beane isn’t. But when she returns, they begin to talk and make friends. One of the sweetest scenes comes late in the play, where Molly asks Beane to tell her a story; the exchanges become lyrical and loving. Later Beane says, "I used to be flat. I was wallpaper. I stayed very still. I met you and I became real." And Molly says, "All of a sudden, the love songs make sense."

Joan and Harry worry about Beane and quarrel a lot. But after Molly seems to help Beane open up and enjoy life, they come alive too—in fun and surprising ways.

It's hard to say what Love Song is about. Does it show us how we can enjoy life and love in many ways, including being comfortable with ourselves—self-love? Family love, romantic love. Actually, Love Song isn’t about much, but it’s a funny and charming 80 minutes of theater. 

Terry Bell and Isa Arciniegas. Photo by Nomee Photography.

Kudos to the design team for making the two settings work together seamlessly. Scenic design is by Joe Schermoly and lighting by Liz Gomez; Tea Roberts is scenic change artist. Sound design and the subtle original music are by Christopher Kriz. Kotryna Hilko is costume designer. Anna Vu is stage manager.

Love Song made its world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2006 with Austin Pendleton directing and a cast of longtime Steppenwolf ensemble members. Ian Barford and Francis Guinan played Beane and Harry; Molly Regan played Joan and the late Mariann Mayberry played Molly. 

Love Song by Remy Bumppo Theatre continues through April 21 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Running time is 80 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $36-$52 for performances Thursday-Sunday. 

For more information on this and other plays, see theatreinchicago.com.

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Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at nancybishopsjournal.com, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.