SOLO ALBUM VOLUME #1: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WOMEN, Cave 76, at the Heartland Studio Theater. In his latest play, Reader contributor Adam Langer introduces us to a group of familiar dysfunctional rock and roll females, from a raging tough to a piteous outcast. Each of his eight characters is based on a song and tells her story in a monologue that highlights the adolescent hubris, despair, and rage of the seedy rock world.

The stories try to stretch the characters beyond the stereotypes of drugs, big money, paranoia, starfucking, and isolation associated with the music culture. But Langer’s shockumentary writing style makes them all sound the same. Although he crams each monologue with political or psychological subtext, the overall tone of rage and cynicism is so pervasive it becomes banal. The bitterness infects even the happiest character, who dumps a snobby boyfriend out of a sense of perky, vicious individualism, despite an excellent performance by Juliet Schaefer.

In a way, it’s hard to tell the aim of this work in progress. Each monologue either needs to be its own play or to be cut back to distinguish and refine the characters. Self-conscious tragedies ripe for personal apocalypse may reflect some of the realities of the rock and roll underworld. But this portrait of women with a blurry past and toxic present is not yet polished enough to be anything more than a music lover’s rambling, bleak fantasy. –Carol Burbank