Dedalus Lounge is billed as a play with music, replete with half-baked musical interludes that refer explicitly and inexplicably to Freddie Mercury. And in telling the story of three friends whose shared history complicates their present relationships, Dedalus abounds with back-story but lacks in focus. It stands, in its current production at the Interart Theatre, a frantic assembly of discordant parts.
The title Dedalus Lounge refers to a Dublin pub, where friends Danny (Anthony Rapp), Delphine (Dee Roscioli) and Daragh (James Kautz) meet several times during the Christmas and New Year holidays. The impish Danny pines for Delphine, a self-possessed restaurant manager who seems the most upwardly mobile of the three. Daragh lives blackout-to-blackout, numbing pain too deep to mention at a bar. The problem with Dedalus is that the playwright, Gary Duggan, never decides whose story is the most important to tell. By affording each character equal stage time, Duggan fails to unite their stories under one purpose. So in the end, when it all resolves around Darragh, the audience is left feeling betrayed and confused.
If I seem harsh in my assessment of Dedalus, it is because I see a great show sandwiched between the jarring transitions. The story of Danny, with his fixation on Freddie Mercury and accompanying sexual confusion, certainly contains the most theatrical promise. Danny expresses his subconscious through song, even recruiting the other characters to join him at one point. His should be the central arc, and the other stories should grow from his. Otherwise, Duggan should consider cutting the musical numbers altogether. As it stands now, they are distracting and frankly bizarre, however well constructed. Plus, the stagehands doubling Danny’s backup dancers do nothing for anyone.
Despite certain misgivings about the production, the performances in Dedalus are surprising and layered. Rapp’s accent could use some refining, but his Danny is conflicted and affectingly pitiable. Although Darragh is a typical Irish rapscallion, Kautz imbues him with a tragic inner life. And the rough edges Roscioli gives to Delphine make her as alluring to the audience as she is to the men with whom she shares the stage. The actors perform admirably, often in spite of the mixed messages emerging from the script.
Given further edits, Dedalus could be quirky show about how love and death, rather than life and
death, are the two existential poles. As it stands now, it is at least three
different stories battling with one another for prominence. Unfortunately, none
of them win in the end.
Dedalus Lounge; Written by Gary Duggan; Songs by Anthony Rapp and Daniel A. Weiss; Directed by Chris Henry; Interart Theatre; 500 West 52nd Street; 800-838-3006; royalfamilyproductions.org