Theater. Classical music. Throw in a well-fed horse and wench-filled buggy and you’ve got yourself a rowdy Victorian evening. Still, amid our claw-marked urban bustle, its nice to know that one can still step away from parking lot-magnitude traffic and faces unglowed by social media to enjoy an amusing live performance.
Dissonance at the Falcon Theater in Toluca Lake is as much a commentary about the widening disparity between modernity and the arcane as it is a smug comedy. The plot is spare; there’s a string quartet, later a wealthy rockstar, at some point they meet. Between these points lies a charming analysis of the culture of music.
Why do we prize so highly or get offended so deeply by simplistic financial success? Why do a focused few hold-outs still adhere to more traditional standards of artistic quality when confronted by evidence entirely to the contrary? Dissonance, written Damian Lanigan, does not truly answer these questions, but invites the spectator to think them through. Its fairly trivial and intuitive to point out that American culture is slipping but who of us, myself included, doesn’t like to hear that point pounded home by acerbic British banter?
The string quartet is bookended by two brothers, impresario James (Daniel Gerroll) and obsequious Paul (Skip Pipo), and some of the more contrived moments of humor in Dissonance come at the expense of one or the other. Yes, there is a slightly manufactured love story between cellist Beth (Elizabeth Schmidt) and rockstar Jonny (Jeffrey Cannata), as well as a protégé-mentor thrashing between James and Hal (Peter Larney). The very best moments in the play emerge during the diatribe-ish damnations of modern culture and if you’re slightly overwrought with American self-loathing and forever culturally malnourished, like this writer, you might just find yourself tickled the sound of Dissonance.
Dissonance runs through March 4. Tickets are available at the Falcon Theater box office in Toluca Lake or by visiting their website.