Theater Review: 'Girlfriend' (Based on Matthew Sweet LP) at the Berkeley Rep

Categories: Arts
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Will (Ryder Bach) and Mike (Jason Hite): Gay boys singing about girls.

Better than: A Matthew Sweet album turned into a play about heterosexuals.
Random detail: Saw author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) in the audience.

Full disclosure: Before this week, I had never listened to Matthew Sweet's 1991 album Girlfriend. Some people will certainly argue that makes me less qualified to review a production based on Sweet's music. To those people I say, I am unqualified to review any play; this one is no different.

I do, however, bring the perspective of someone who can judge Berkeley Rep's musical on its own merits without being burdened by expectation. And let's face it--a lot of people are not familiar with Sweet's work (which wasn't the case with Berkeley Rep's production of Green Day's American Idiot), so it's important that Girlfriend appeal to ignoramuses like me.

So did it work? Here's my Twitter-friendly summation: Good first act. Flawed second act. Abrupt, unbelievable Hollywood ending. But it made me want to go out and buy the album.

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