Being in love is good. Getting heartbroken is bad. Relationships are sometimes fun, sometimes lame. No revelations there: It’s the way the world has always worked. Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart, currently at La MaMa, takes a crack at the age-old L-word. But the play’s post-modern, hodgepodge approach is too loose, too unstructured, and leans too heavily on cliches to have any real emotional resonance.
This Hand2Mouth production certainly tries, though. In fact, it tries too hard. The loosely structured plot (which doesn’t have much of a narrative) isn’t very complicated. Six performers act out various vignettes and anecdotes on the different stages of relationships—falling in love, arguing, breaking up, getting over someone, etc.—through dance, stage fighting, or just straight up talking to one another about their Feelings. It’s all soundtracked by pop music—like Robyn—until the final act, when the cast members grab microphones and sing confessional original indie-rock songs about heartbreak. If Something has one thing going for it, it’s that you never quite know what the characters are going to do next.
Most of the chaotic play’s themes are enacted with an overt and sweeping earnestness. That could be possibly forgiven due to the show’s subject manner, but the characters and their emotions feel cut-out and fake. Other times during the piece, it’s like being in a bar overhearing a group of people you don’t know talk about their feelings. Without knowing their context, the chatter can sound self-serving and obnoxious.
Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart is also just too long. Clocking in at over 100 minutes, the repetitiveness of the trite conflicts becomes especially excruciating past the 60-minute mark. Obviously, love is a concept that will always inspire art, and Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart should be commended for the risk of its experimental storytelling. But like the relationships it displays, the play fails to come together.