2005_03_artstheater.jpgWhat if Seattle rock legend Kurt Cobain had married a local Pacific Northwestern Phil Collins-loving waitress instead of Courtney Love? And what if the Cobain-esque rock star had left behind one special song when he died, so special that his widow clings to it, not sharing it with the world, and prompting freak groupie types to try to do anything to get their hands on it? Playwright Christopher Shinn (Four, Where Do We Live) runs with this idea in his new work On The Mountain, with its New York premiere currently being presented at Playwrights Horizons, one of Gothamist's favorite not-for-profit theater companies.

Jo Bonney (Fat Pig, Stop Kiss), directs a talented young cast, whose highlight is Amy Ryan as Sarah, the Courtney-esque young woman. Ryan is sensational, and we can't wait to see her as Stella in the Roundabout's upcoming A Streetcar Named Desire. Sarah is rearing a teenage daughter named Jaime, who is very creative yet withdrawn and isolated, and in constant therapy. The catalyst for upheaval in their little slice of the world is when Sarah brings home the much younger Carrick, a Sam Goody record store clerk, who's not what he seems. He's an obsessed fan of the late, great Jason Carlyle, Sarah's dead ex. The slender plot rests upon if and how he's using Sarah strictly in a sick, mercenary way, and how his presence altars Sarah and Jaime's existence.

2005_03_artstheater3.jpgThere's not a lot of plot here and the play is probably meant to be more of a character study/slice of life piece, but the acting is excellent and the dialogue impresses. We weren't in all honesty totally knocked out here, but any one feeling sentimental for the nineties and the grunge era may be charmed by the constant references to that era. Most ironic line award goes to the Carrick character, when asked by Jaime what type of music he listens too, his reply speaks of early nineties music, such as Smashing Pumpkins and Tori Amos. It's so funny to us when people wax nostalgic about such recent music.

You can catch On The Mountain through March 13 at the Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater, 416 West 42nd Street (betw. 9th & 10th Avenues)
[Photography by Joan Marcus]