Chad Reviews "Falsettos"
Love can take many forms and wear innumerable masks, thus being something that the human race has been struggling to define since we learned how to communicate. Artists have attempted it for centuries and there’s no greater feeling imaginable, but when it ends, the grief feels almost as heart-wrenching as mourning the death of someone close to you. We’ve all gone through it at some point in our live, and this is the subject matter explored in “Falsettos,” the long celebrated musical by William Finn and James Lapine playing for a quick run at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas until February 17th.
This contemporary opera focuses on Marvin, his estranged wife Trina, their awkward son Jason, their psychiatrist Mendel, and family “friend” Whizzer whom Marvin leaves Trina for. The tryst throws everyone’s life into total upheaval as they all struggle to cope with the aftermath, and as former friends and professional colleagues become intimate partners, the lines become blurrier as to whom is playing the correct role, with young Jason caught between two and sometimes even three sides as he struggles with his own identity on his way from boyhood to manhood, while his parents fight amongst themselves as to their own sense of purpose.
I genuinely struggled with this production and found it increasingly difficult to hold my attention, even though the material itself is strong and so is the talent (with Eden Espinosa’s Trina being the standout, especially in numbers like “I’m Breaking Down”) involved. So why did I find myself squirming in my chair and checking my watch every several minutes? I suppose that it’s because in a nutshell, the anger, bitterness, and overall despair seemed to overtake the light-heartedness that would peek through every so often. It’s definitely not the feel good story of the year, and the runtime feels extremely long, so prepare for some lower back strain if remaining seated makes you squirm a bit. There’s definitely something there, but it’s also definitely not for everybody.