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‘The Hold Going Songs’ Evaluate: Vexed by Grief and Fearful In regards to the Planet

Not a number of Lincoln Heart Theater reveals name for setting the preperformance temper with the Grateful Lifeless, however when “Uncle John’s Band” came visiting the audio system the opposite night earlier than the Bengsons took the stage, it was such a perfect match for his or her crunchy, mellow, kindhearted, folk-rock vibe that I needed to smile.

In Abigail and Shaun Bengson’s “The Hold Going Songs,” although, it’s the lifeless with a lowercase “d” who’re integral. This married couple of music-makers, identified for shaggy, melodic, autobiographically impressed theater, wished to create what they name “a live performance. That’s additionally a wake.”

Directed by Caitlin Sullivan for LCT3, the present is a musing on loss of life: of human beings, and of our planet. The pairing doesn’t completely work organically. Nonetheless, the seeming intent is a processing of grief.

“For those who’re on this room,” Abigail tells the viewers on the Claire Tow Theater, “we assume you’re going by one thing horrible.”

Shaun provides: “And if you happen to’re not, then we don’t need to hear about it.” (Is he joking? He’s very dry. Arduous to inform.)

As Abigail notes, the present is front-loaded with grief. She mentions nearly instantly that her brother died the day she and Shaun had been requested to do that Lincoln Heart run. The harm of that loss is in reality threaded all through “The Hold Going Songs,” which, by the best way, is a brand new piece. Regardless of the title and the shared motif of perseverance, it’s unrelated to the Bengsons’ pandemic-inspired present “The Hold Going Music,” with its upbeat, earworm title tune.

This present is sadder, extra battered by life, regardless of the ethereal harmonies and occasional crystallizing comedian lyric, just like the one about Manhattan as the house of “the lanternfly and the tech bro.” Or the prolonged, trippily humorous dance, through the “Animal Suite” part, through which Shaun morphs right into a crab, and makes crab sounds.

The music is usually chic, and Abigail’s enchantress voice may make you consider in historic gods bestowing items on mortals. So it’s irritating that “The Hold Going Songs” is as amorphous because the grief that vexes her. Whether or not or not that formal echo is intentional, it makes the present onerous to get a deal with on.

And it made me miss the playwright Sarah Gancher and the director Anne Kauffman, the Bengsons’ collaborators on “Hundred Days” and “The Fortunate Ones,” reveals whose looseness had a discernible construction beneath.

Even the one overtly ritualistic section right here, a toast to Abigail’s brother that features Guinness for a handful of viewers members, meanders. I couldn’t assist remembering Aya Ogawa’s mourning ritual of a play, “The Nosebleed,” whose tautness in the identical LCT3 area solely amplified its ache.

Cate McCrea’s “Hold Going” set is constructed of what we’re informed are parts recycled from productions in Lincoln Heart Theater’s Broadway home. The thrust stage is flanked by vivid inexperienced, globe-topped streetlights standing askew, as if Sesame Avenue had been thrown into chaos. (That’s not a dis.)

Near the stage are a half-dozen tiny cabaret tables, then the same old financial institution of seats — however I want we’d all been at cabaret tables, as a result of this present cries out for relaxed intimacy. It could assist if the lights weren’t up on the viewers a lot of the time, inadvertently hindering communion.

“The Hold Going Songs” appears like the center installment of a film trilogy, the place the heroes’ onerous slog by the valley is all-consuming, and solace is a dream or a reminiscence.

As soon as, Abigail tells us, when she was on the backside of a properly of ache, she despatched her brother a signal-flare textual content: “hey.” And he despatched her again a sustaining shot of grace: “kick ass kiddo.”

Now that’s the title of a Bengsons tune.

The Hold Going Songs
By way of Could 26 on the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Heart Theater, Manhattan; Operating time: 1 hour 50 minutes.

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