Nobody Loves You, the musical comedy now running at Second Stage, is the theatrical equivalent of the watermelon martini: jokey, overly sweet, sneakily refreshing. Written by brainiac playwright Itamar Moses and composer Gaby Alter, it concerns Jeff (Bryan Fenkart), a philosophy grad student more interested in reading The Ontology of Sex than having it. Dumped by his girlfriend, he plans to win her back by appearing on her favorite reality dating show.
Moses and Alter have serious topics in mind—the gulf between authenticity and performance, the parlous state of “the real” as applies to network TV. They also have a satiric agenda, which often falls flat, likely because their most absurd challenges are nothing compared to what actually crowds airwaves. (Or am I alone in recalling Paradise Hotel?)
But when they give in to mere froth and jollity, the show is a delight. Moses has a fine time writing one-liners for the self-absorbed host (Health Calvert): “This ice is cold,” he complains. And Alter creates exuberant songs for a Twitter-obsessed fan (Rory O’Malley). (The writing for the women? Less sharp.) Besides, at only 90 splashy, silly minutes, you’ll have plenty of time for your own icy cocktails after.