I didn’t enjoy myself at the theater last week, and my weekly drama column for The Wall Street Journal, in which two newly opened shows catch several kinds of hell, reflects that fact with alarming clarity.
First under the lash is Good Vibrations:
Harpo Marx described the famously awful, extremely popular “Abie’s Irish Rose” as “no worse than a bad cold.” Judged by that yardstick, “Good Vibrations,” the new Beach Boys musical that opened Wednesday at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, is more like a stroke–one that leaves you capable of movement but knocks 15 points off your IQ. By the time I finally staggered up the aisle, I found it hard to remember that there was once a time when even the most blatantly commercial musicals were put together with a modicum of intelligence and craftsmanship….
I’m not saying there’s nothing good about “Good Vibrations.” I liked the tall, cheery-looking blonde in the blue top, for instance. But outside of the dogged professionalism of the hard-working cast, there’s precious little else to admire outside of the undeniable fact that it never pretends to be anything other than a big dumb applause machine. Somehow I can’t see paying $100 a seat for a musical that’s unpretentiously horrible.
No less unpleasing was Brooklyn Boy:
Donald Margulies, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Dinner With Friends,” has now written a play about a struggling young Brooklyn author who writes a best-seller about his unhappy youth and promptly discovers that all that glitters is not gold. Excuse the clich