Through November 22
GOAT SONG Alleyway Theatre/on-line
Sometimes, change in music isn’t what fans want.
They want the same they always heard and that’s good enough for them even if the musicians are being driven crazy.
For those of a certain age, it was when Bob Dylan went electric at Newport and there are those who have never forgiven him.
His songs were great.
The singing voice? Not so much.
The electric guitar? Not what most wanted to hear.
In Matt Harmon’s “Goat Song,” well known musician Marcus (Brian Gallagher) has changed his music and an on-line concert doesn’t go well.
Harmon and director Robyn Lee Horn have outfitted the screen with the “chat” from various on-line programs and the viewer of the overall show can see what Marcus is reacting to, particularly the attacks for not playing the music they want and he no longer wants to play and mostly for not playing, but talking.
He tells the audience he’s now been sober for five years and he’s changing and wants what he plays to change also.
Much of the play is Marcus apologizing for his past bad behavior, seemingly on Step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps.
Over his years in the music business, alcohol seems to have been a real problem, including what seems to have been a fatal accident when driving the band van on a long trip when drinking.
As with so much of the show, Harmon seems to have created a play where everyone watching knows all of this stuff, filling it with oblique references to Marcus’ songs and past performances with various bands and they don’t want to hear about his bad days, they just want to hear the music.
It’s a rock star version of “Amadeus” without the Masons and Emperor Joseph II, featuring someone who may have killed Mozart because of his amazing bad behavior and amazingly great music.
In these times, when musicians will openly discuss some of the most amazing aspects of their personal and professional lives what Marcus is talking about isn’t what the fans want.
That’s even when you learn things about him that explain a lot of things, like his passage from band to band and the way he has abandoned former friends to move on.
This is a pretty short one-man show, around 50 minutes.
That’s long enough to realize Marcus may not be drinking but seems to be on something or has a mind damaged by years on the bottle with the facial changes and the non-sequiturs.
Horn and others involved in the production decided to do the show in extreme closeup which may explain why his flailing about is sometimes annoying.
Just play the damn guitar.
At the same time, “Goat Song” is a plunge into the psyche of a disturbed star musician trying to find himself without the alcohol and delusions.
It’s interesting although too short to explain his past and long enough to be too long without some understanding of what some of his past is all about.
Interesting idea and strong performance from Gallagher in a part which seems like a long interview for “Rolling Stone.”
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