Are Big In Germany’s Dylan George (left) and Michael Goldlist worth seeing? Nein.
BIG IN GERMANY by Rob Salerno (Ten Foot Pole). At Buddies In Bad Times (12 Alexander). To April 21. $15-$25. 416-975-8555. See listings. Rating: NN
Writer/director Rob Salerno's sloppy rock comedy attempts to deliver a cute dose of 90s Toronto nostalgia but fails because of a boring, banged-up vehicle of a plot and some shockingly bad musical choices.
The story begins with high school pals Alex (Dylan George) and Bruce (Michael Goldist) forming a band inspired by local alt-rockers Our Lady Peace. After slogging it out in the Toronto club scene while working part-time on porn sets, they suddenly (and inexplicably) make it "big in Germany," but as in every rock movie ever, their success proves fleeting and leads to friction between the best buds.
The biggest problem is the music. While posters plastered around the set reference alternative grunge rockers like Treble Charger and the Tea Party, Alex and Bruce's "band" (it's just Bruce on guitar and Alex on vocals) can only muster some chuggy blues rock riffs and bombastic stadium vocals that sounds more bad 70s than bad 90s. For a play that's all about music - working amps and guitars are onstage at all times - there's a surprising lack of actual music. Then again, that could be a plus.
The most frustrating part is that the bands they keep joking about (Moist, Stone Temple Pilots, I Mother Earth) have so much comic potential: ridiculously bleak and overwrought lyrics, husky, earnest baritone vocals, formulaic loud-quiet-loud song structure. All these elements are ripe for parody, but Salerno surprisingly misses this Big Shiny opportunity.
Beyond the major musical missteps, loose, sketch-level staging, a by-the-numbers plot and multiple flubbed lines make this a grating experience by the halfway point in the 90- minute haul.
What's puzzling is that Salerno has shown considerable talent elsewhere (like his solid solo show Fucking Stephen Harper), and his nostalgia here seems quite sincere. But, sadly, instead of a theatrical nod to Hard Core Logo, he's given us a shittier version of Airheads.