"Lonely, I'm Not," at 2econd Stage Theatre through June 3rd, truly deserves a more imaginative moniker. Playwright Paul Weitz does his fine romantic comedy a great disservice by not finding a worthier title to represent it. In fact "Lonely, I'm Not," is arguably the best of the four Weitz plays 2econd Stage has produced.
On the other hand, the title of the performance piece at 59E59 Theaters, also playing through June 3rd, "Here I Go,", conjures up a favorite Dolly Parton tune. "Here I Go" lives up to the promise, if not the spirit, that the tune inspires.
Heather (Olivia Thirlby) on a date with Porter (Topher Grace) in Paul Weitz’s “Lonely, I’m Not.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
The hooks in Dolly Parton's songs are so catchy and bouncy that it's hard to imagine them as a soundtrack for heartbreak, but in "Here I Go," Lynette, widowed at 60 (Natalie Leonard), not only has lost her husband but also had lost touch with her family.
Gates Loren Leonard, Michael Howell, Natalie Leonard in “Here I Go.” Photo © Corey Torpie.
"Here I Go" is a very engaging silent show, with a musical soundtrack, some of it live (Lynette at 16, Mariah Iliardi-Lowy, sings as does Michael Howell, billed as The Man) and a voice over narration (voiced by Julie Nelson.) Written by David Todd, "Here I Go" is a stylized performance conceived by Luke Leonard, who also directs, and set to Western sounds (designed by Michael Howell.)
In "Here I Go," Lynette revisits the highlights and low points of her life as a cowgirl, bringing to life her younger selves (along with her at 16 years old; at 8, Gates Loren Leonard; at 26, Jessica Pohlman).
Jessica Pohlman and Michael Howell in “Here I Go.” Photo © Corey Torpie.
"All I ever wanted was a few moments to myself, just to think...." Lynette says. "And then I'd put on my music and it would sound so sweet, because I had you and I had them.... But when you take it all away... the music just doesn't do it anymore."
In "Lonely, I'm Not," Porter (Topher Grace), still reeling from his divorce three years ago, has also fallen on hard times. Once he was a high-powered, hard-driving success. His father, Rick (Mark Blum), a con artist, still thinks of him as a soft touch, although he is running low on funds.
Little Dog (Christopher Jackson) with Porter (Topher Grace) in Paul Weitz’s “Lonely, I’m Not.” Photo © Joan Marcus.