no matter how many '60s names playwright David Rimmer drops in his slight nostalgic comedy "Album," there's more excitement to be found in a heated game of "Baby Boomer."
Rimmer's first play, at the Studio Theater, is a hybrid of Name That Tune and the Name Game. The playwright seems to have thumbed through back issues of Time, hanging as many icons as possible onto a series of sketchy vignettes purporting to show the way we were.
On a set cluttered with '60s detritus, four teenagers wander through their Wonder Years. The quartet's struggles with their romantically high expectations of life and their worries over whether they are "normal" are paralleled by the evolution of rock music from boy-girl ballads to "serious" experimenting and protest, Beach Boys to Beatles. The kids exhibit an almost total identification with their rock heroes, who speak and act for them.
Rimmer puts his group into most of the standard scenarios -- strip-poker party, summer camp, graduation dance, make-out Mecca -- and shows an ear for both the inanities and sharp insights of teenage talk. But though his frequent mentions of names and news events provoke occasional sighs or chuckles of identification, they don't evoke or explain the era.
When a scene does hit home, much of the credit is due Studio's young cast. As Boo, the class clown, Michael Wells grows from hyperkinetic goofball to would-be rebel without a cause. Elizabeth DuVall is unfailingly funny as popular Peggy, a proto-preppie if ever there was one. Her boyfriend Billy is played by Ramsay Midwood, who shows the confusion under the cool. And Trish, a late-bloomer infatuated with a series of pop stars, is played with near- hysteria by Jennifer Charles.
Director Sue Crystal stre-e-e-etches the thin material like gooey bubblegum, and though this play might have worked as a breezy romp, dwelling on it reveals its insignificance. "Album's" soundtrack of '60s standards is ultimately the most entertaining part of the evening, calling up a rush of memories. Studio Theater might have done better by trimming the "Album" and just playing the singles. ALBUM -- At the Studio Theater through December 2.