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‘Music Lovers’ combines relationships, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll

Alan Berks’ “Music Lovers,”­ now playing at the Workhaus Collective, looks hard at the creation of art, the depths of friendship and the constant struggle between youthful enthusiasm and adult concerns. Like these issues, the play itself is a bit difficult to unpack. While sometimes too talky, Berk’s play most often cooks like a band at the height of its power.

The show turns on the relationship among three people, seen both in the present day and 10 years previously, when they’d been much younger and life appeared to be a bit simpler. Courtney is a rocker, a mad-genius songwriter who has followed his own muse in relative obscurity for a decade. Domingo is his best friend, the band’s bass player and Courtney confidant. James is a record company executive who, 10 years earlier, had been a painter and Courtney’s dedicated girlfriend.

With the past sequence sandwiched between two looks at the present, it’s easy to see how life has drained so much from them and how much more painful their decisions are now than they were at a younger age. The complex algebra of their mutual relationship is difficult to solve,­ and events from a decade past still reverberate through their lives.

Berks, who also directs here, is aided by a great cast, led by Randy Reyes as Domingo and Lindsay Marcy as James, who both slip into vastly different but clearly related characters in the play. Nathan Christopher has a different challenge. Courtney doesn’t change much on the outside through the show, but there’s just as much turmoil inside. That comes through throughout his performance, be it as a wild drunk stripping off his clothes or a man who feels the sting of his own dreams.

“Music Lovers” runs through March 27 at the Playwrights Center, 2301 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. There is also live music after Friday and Saturday evening performances. Tickets are $8-$15. For information and tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit online.

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