How far would you go to save someone you love? What if the consequences of your actions are disastrous? Ludo’s Broken Bride, a new musical at the New York Theater Festival. examines these questions. Although there are strong moments of singing and comedy, the play left me feeling a bit confused.
Much of the dismay happens, when you start time traveling in a piece of theater. This is always tricky to pull off well. But the production goes there so I will attempt to explain as best I can. Basically, a guy named Ludo goes back in time to try to save his bride Oriel, who died tragically. But he never gets the time configuration right and he either goes too far back in time or jumps way ahead to the future. Throughout his quantum leaps, we see the relationship between Ludo and Oriel unfold. Ludo ends up in the apocalypse, after his last time jump, and sees the destruction he has caused by recklessly jumping through time. Adding to the confusion happens in Act Two when the actress, Gabrielle McClinton, playing Oriel doubles as a post-apocalyptic prophetess who Tom recognizes. But Is she Oriel reincarnated? Unfortunately, we are left in the dark and totally unsure what this means, if anything.
This is the very basic plot of this musical and luckily for it the piece has some strong ensemble members who are delightful to watch, even if we are unsure of where we are. Carson Higgins offers a strong, emotional vocal performance that keeps us engaged as we jump from past to present. Brian Charles Rooney steals the show as the devil character. His singing is remarkable and he plays the multi-faceted role superbly. Brendan Malafronte captures our hearts as Hawkins, Tom’s new companion along his journey. The scenes between Higgins and Malafronte provide some of the highest points in the show.
Other noteworthy elements are the costumes designed by Bree Perry. Perry manages to capture the mood and setting in her selections, specifically in the apocalyptic scenes. Though no fault of her own, it seemed jarring that after Tom and Oriel make love, Oriel is in a negligee while Tom is fully dressed (with shoes on no less!) But that quibble aside, the costumes shine and are fabulous. Steven Paul Blandino does an excellent job with the choreography. The dancers, much to their credit as well as his, glide across the floor and provide some beautiful moments.
But at the heart of this piece is a love story, untimely ripped apart and the inability to let go. When the creative team tells that story, they have us in the palms of their hands. But it gets muddied up when you add all the external elements, which is when we become confused. Further revisions may help streamline the story, and thereby make it more accessible for the audience. As it stands it is caught between worlds, much like its main character.
Ludos Broken Bride plays now through August 6th at The Duke 229 W 42nd St. http://www.nymf.org