It sports a wanna-be rock score with a plot line bordering on banal that only 15-year-olds might appreciate. Our first couple are Hannah and James, played to teenage perfection (not a compliment) by Abbe Tanenbaum and Davi Santos. They are running as a team for class office. They also happen to be dating. But much like teenagers who date, they quickly break up, with James returning to his old girlfriend Sarah, played by Katie Mack. Hannah then turns her affections towards her stepbrother, Ben, played by Wesley Tunison. They confront the taboo of an incestuous relationship between step-siblings.
There is a troubled couple, Jen and Nick, played by Sarah Kapner and Justin Stein, respectively. There is some vague allusion to their time spent together in a mental clinic, something that is never fully explored or explained.
There is a gay couple. Joe, played by Daniel Quadrino, is open about his sexuality and has a crush on Chris, the high school jock played by Matthew J. Riordan. There is the stereotypical high school homophobia with its “beat up the fag” rantings.
From the setup above, you would think that Trouble has more depth to it. But frankly, it has the depth of a kiddie pool when it comes right down to dealing with those topics. The characters are broadly drawn caricatures that are hard to take seriously.
The direction by Michael Alvarez is a mottled, confused mess. It starts with an opening number where the band is allowed to play the underscoring so loudly that you can’t hear the dialogue. Throughout the show, actors were routinely bumping into one another as though traffic patterns hadn’t been established. Lawn chairs were placed on stage for a two-person scene. The actors didn’t utilize the chairs, and the chairs didn’t serve any purpose in setting a scene or tone. The nudity and simulated sex peppered throughout the piece are gratuitous and awkward.
The lightning by Victor Zeiser is an absolute disaster and distracts greatly from the production with dark lighting, abrupt cues and a general sense that they hadn’t spent any time in tech.
If you think I’m being hard on this show, I’m being no harder on it than the critics of the mainstream press would be were the show to move. That’s what these festivals are for, to try things out. They don’t always work, Trouble the Musical definitely doesn’t.