With “Glue,” Available Light Theatre, the most sure-footed of Central Ohio troupes, stumbles into territory it rarely visits: the Land of Sentimentality. AVLT’s often extraordinary original creations have ranged from the absorbing economics lesson, “Dirty Math,” to “Stop Sign Language,” its examination of dyslexia from the inside out.
“Glue” dissects friendship from the perspective of four characters devastated by the sudden death of a fifth, Mark, killed in a collision with a drunk driver. Julie (Michelle G. Schroeder) knew Mark first and lived with him, platonically, on and off. Rebecca (Elena M. Perantoni) and Mark had been an item until breaking up several years ago. Anna (Acacia Leigh Duncan) and Mark had been friends forever. Brian (Jordan Fehr) and Mark drew comics together.
Following AVLT’s common practice, “Glue” pastes together a huge array of sources ranging from Joan Didion and Ann Patchett to Judy Blume (“Superfudge”) and Arnold Lobel (“Frog and Toad are Friends”). Unlike with many of AVLT’s successful compilations, the seams really show in “Glue.”
On the one hand, we get heart-wrenching a cappella renditions of the Australian band Hunters and Collectors’ “Throw Your Arms Around Me” and Columbus’s own The Saturday Giant’s “When Death Comes.” On the other hand, we get treacly equations of friendship and love as part of a warmed-over “Big Chill.”
The central metaphor of friendship as the glue that holds humanity together is unassailable, but Available Light has conditioned us to expect the ineffable. “Glue” doesn’t quite hold together.
Photos by Matt Slaybaugh