THIS COULD BE LOVE by Brock Simpson, directed by John Mitchell, with Jonathan Wilson and Krista Sutton. Presented by Harry Gadsby Theatricals at the Poor Alex Theatre (296 Brunswick). Runs to March 1, Monday-Friday 8 pm, Saturday 7 and 10 pm, matinee Wednesday 2:30 pm. $15-$30. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Early on in Brock Simpson's ambitious This Could Be Love, his characters He (Jonathan Wilson) and She (Krista Sutton) compare lists about relationship wants and needs.It got me thinking about my own wants and needs -- for musical theatre. Bare minimum, I need clever lyrics, memorable music. The music should match situation and character. Rich characters? Yes. Surprise? Of course. Social relevance? A bonus.
This Could Be Love fulfills many of the above, but the magic isn't there.
Simpson has set up an anti-romantic musical, the classic precursor being Sondheim's Company. But where that musical encompassed a believable world marked by neurosis and fear, Simpson creates characters from the outside in, grafting on tics.
He and She meet after being stood up by their dates, and decide to force love on themselves. They marry, break up and then Monica sleeps with Chandler. Oops, wrong channel.
Simpson's saying lots about intimacy, and his nuanced book touches on societal issues like urban alienation and selling your soul. His lyrics range widely, although the clever rhymes often get lost in the music's odd rhythms. And Simpson has a penchant for blue, or wrong-sounding, notes to add texture where there is none.
Wilson and Sutton perform gamely till the end on Christopher Richards's serviceable though harshly lit set. A few days after seeing the show, it's their energy I recall, not the songs or situations.
This Could Be Love will have to settle for like.