What does your era sound like, and how will you know when it ends? The Undeniable Sound of Right Now — Laura Eason’s sweet, funny new play, directed by Kirsten Kelly for the Rattlestick — explores this perennial question, conjuring a charming portrait of a music scene teetering on the verge of generational change.
Twenty-five years ago, Hank (Jeb Brown) founded Hank’s Bar, a now-venerable Chicago club that championed under-recognized bands and hosted era-defining concerts. Posters and memorabilia from the Doors, the Clash, and Fleetwood Mac litter the bar’s grimy, duct-taped benches and peeling walls. (John McDermott designed the picture-perfect set.) But now it’s the early Nineties and the kids are lining up for DJs who spin at all-night warehouse raves. If that’s not enough to set Hank on edge, his daughter and club manager Lena (Margo Seibert) starts dating one of the DJs — just as creeping gentrification threatens the bar’s longstanding lease.
Undeniable treads well-worn dramatic territory, staging face-offs between landlord and tenant, cranky dad and rebellious daughter, the voice of the old and the voice of the new. After a few too many exchanges about nostalgia, memory, and whether DJs really count as artists, these themes become repetitive. Still, Eason’s witty dialogue, and Brown and Seibert’s father-daughter intensity, make this a welcome act — even if it’s more classic than cutting-edge.