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A Hard Day's Journey Into Night

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A HARD DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, WNEP Theater Foundation, at the Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio. The title promises a Eugene O'Neill parody, but it never happens; instead Joe Janes's one-act depicts the death of a dumb dream. Presumably inspired by This Is Spinal Tap and Forever Plaid, this 100-minute late-night show concerns an even sadder rock 'n' roll band, the Beatbusters--a Beatles tribute group that's been together far longer than the Liverpool quartet ever was. With an excruciating lack of urgency, Janes chronicles their breakup as they cruise the midwest on a final tour that pathetically echoes the Beatles' last days. This Un-Fab Four--a stoned cynic, lithium-swilling pretty boy, homeless and horny drummer, and married stoic--founders on bad gigs, ambitions at cross-purposes, random love, and a passel of showbiz cliches.

There's a potentially affecting story here, especially since the faux four have a demented fan who prefers them to the real thing. But Janes hasn't bothered to provide a plot, just numerous maddeningly aimless episodes (including a bizarre, gratuitous mutual seduction involving a one-armed vacuum-cleaner salesman and a throbbing matron). In Gary Ruderman's too casual staging, these seemingly improvised scenes don't end, they just run out of juice. Tom Farnan brings sullen conviction to his true-believing McCartney clone, and Patrick Carton grabs laughs as various cornball emcees. But the cast are hard put to be half as funny or sad as the enervating script supposes them.

--Lawrence Bommer

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