Head Under Heels

Two American hostages caught between rock and a hard place

Clay McLeod Chapman and Kyle Jarrow, like any Americans venturing into dangerous territory, deserve credit for bravery: Who would think rock music and hostage-taking belong in the same play? Alas, after seeing their Crown Point Festival production Hostages, I still don't.

The show features Paul Thureen and Hanna Cheek as Jim and Jen, two captured Americans who share a cell in a nameless Middle Eastern country; they pass the time commiserating and crooning (with the help of an onstage rock band) before Jim is beheaded. The play boasts some moving moments—as when the hostages imagine they are back in America, meeting in a bar, or when Jim's wife, addressing us from the U.S., describes seeking footage of her husband's murder. But the music either flatly underlines these scenes or skews their effect with a puzzling peppiness. And the needlessly confused timeline enables a recently decapitated Jim to launch into a soulful tune, prompting giggles rather than sniffles. Nearly every character overindulges in childhood reminiscences—some involving dogs, some dads, some both. So . . . Abe Goldfarb's fluent and genuine portrayal of Jim's son comes as a breath of fresh air, which Hostages—like its characters—could use more of.

 
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