Going Up, LeTraunik Productions, at TurnAround Theatre. Not so long ago, most white male adolescents aspired to play the guitar, the better to express their thoughts and feelings–for males were allowed to be introspective, even sensitive, in those days. Some have continued into adulthood–like the Green brothers, John and Rich, who open John’s musical memoir with a song lamenting the difficulty of singing the blues when one lives in affluent Wilmette. Of course, Dad had a drinking problem, little sister kept attempting suicide, and Mom denied it all. And the responsibility for providing spiritual stability fell to John. These demands in turn sent him searching through the alphabet soup of the human potential movement (EST, TM, OK/OK, etc), and now he’s come to see life as an escalator on which we must keep “going up.”
John’s odyssey is described in a 90-minute program of chatty anecdotes (Rich’s wisecracks provide a counterpoint to his earnest big brother’s idealism) and old-fashioned seven-chord songs with optimistic, homiletic lyrics. The atmosphere may sometimes get a bit too back-porch cozy, but the Green boys’ deft musicianship–Rich picks some sweet banjo on “Spring Hill Breakdown,” and John contributes some soaring John Denver-style tenor obbligatos–ensures a gentle, genially nostalgic good time.
–Mary Shen Barnidge