A Daily Beast headline proclaimed the news on June 17, 2013, three days before the summer technically even began: “Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke’s Summer Anthem, Is Kind of Rapey.” For the remainder of that year, talk show hosts and Tumblr users decried the song and its NSFW video and its generic but kind of dopey Canadian singer as the root of all the world’s evil.* Lauren Yee’s new comedy, making its world premiere at Trinity Rep, uses that moment in history as the inspiration for a comedy about a milquetoast pop singer named Robbie (Charlie Thurston) who scales the charts with an iffy song about consent. In case there were any doubts, there are also several mentions of a copyright lawsuit. After an unfortunate opening number—the song is bad, the delivery unfortunate—the play quickly switches gears and moves to a Pennsylvania coal town, where the singer has snuck away to visit his old hippie piano teacher (Anne Scurria) and her daughter (Tina Chilip), an old friend of Robbie’s. The romantic comedy that plays out is way more interesting than any of the music stuff. Chilip is particularly effective as a young woman whose abrasive demeanor belies some real insecurity, while Scurria’s gift for comedy is on full display here.
[photo: Mark Turek]
*In retrospect, 2013 was a particularly crazy time for sex in popular culture. For instance: Spring Breakers; the doomed return of Anthony Weiner; Miley Cyrus naked atop a wrecking ball; and Lady Gaga inexplicably pairing up with R. Kelly for a sultry but crazily misguided duet called “Do What U Want”.