All Good Things
nytheatre.com review by David Pumo
August 15, 2004
There’s really only one reason to do another '60s rock-and-roll bio: The music, of course. If the music wasn’t great, there’s no reason to waste our time with the story. At the premiere of All Good Things (directed by David Roth, with a book by Michael Eric Stein), the four young men who recreate the music of the almost-made-it rock group The Remains had the audience on its feet. Of course it’s easy for me, weaned on Herman’s Hermits and Meet the Beatles, to find a soft spot for this vintage. What’s less subjective, though, is the quality of the performances. Ryan Link, Anthony Rand, Daniel Hall, and Clayton Fletcher, who portray the members of the band, are all talented musician working tightly together and off each other to create a great sound, and to provide a live experience—eighteen songs in all—that you just don’t get from all those black-and-white TV clips of '60s guitar bands standing like statues on variety shows.
If anything is missing from this ambitious show on a shoe-string budget, it’s… a budget. You know: twenty actors instead of five to add atmosphere; sets rolling on and off to smooth out the transitions between the songs and the story; real club and concert lighting. But, hey, this is the FringeNYC Festival, a place where you gladly imagine all of that (and imagine some producer in the audience imagining it too), a place where all things technical are forgiven if the show has heart. All Good Things has a heart the size of Madison Square Garden.
Many of the story elements are predictable—drug use, infidelity with groupies, fights with parents about college. But there’s enough about The Remains that kicks them up a notch to make the story worth telling. They appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, had a significant critical following—notably including Crawdaddy magazine’s Jon Landau—and they opened for the Beatles on a major tour. Their saga is frustrating to watch, and artists in the audience will empathize with the embittering story of reaching significant signposts, only to discover that there wasn’t quite enough to push you over to the other side. But all musicals—even semi-tragic biographies—end on an upbeat. And so All Good Things leaves us feeling triumphant with a finale off of their 2002 comeback album.
The story is told as a flashback. The drummer, Chip Damiani, is being interviewed for a radio show. I’m not a big fan of this type of narration. Trust the story to tell itself. Maybe when the show has a higher budget, that part will seem smoother. And who knows? If their history is any indication, The Remains, and All Good Things, might be around for a long time.