WOODSTOCK NATION, Griffin Theatre Company. Even if we hadn't just come out of a summer so full of hype I started hoping something Altamont-like would happen at the 25th-anniversary concert, William Massolia's play would have seemed annoying and superficial. Filled with stock characters from the media's version of the 60s, it says nothing new about that overexamined, mythologized era: one character is drafted, another gets laid, a third decides to join a commune.
What is surprising is how well this cross section of American youth circa 1969 gets along. No one wonders if the roommate with the David Eisenhower haircut and his girlfriend with the dopey Julie Nixon do are really narcs. And she never judges her boyfriend's stoned roommates harshly. Which makes me think Massolia did most of his research about the 60s watching The Mod Squad and Love, American Style.
His play does have redeeming qualities. Massolia has a real gift for character-driven comic dialogue--and the cast look happiest when they enter a comic sequence, as when Lewis, the drugged-out hippie, delivers one of his trippy speeches or when the promiscuous hippie chick seduces the uptight Cubs fan and he has to decide between sex and the game (remember, this is the 1969 Cubs). But Massolia and director Richard Barletta have emphasized the most melodramatic aspects of the play, which means mostly we get to watch two and a half hours of: Should I go to Canada? Why did my brother have to die in Vietnam? Is it right to blow up buildings to protest the war?