Maryland playwright Bob Bartlett is fast making a name for himself in site-specific theatre. In 2018, he wrote the romantic and funny “The Accident Bear” and produced it in a laundromat. During the Covid-19 closures, he staged his play “Three Strangers Sitting Around A Backyard Firepit At Two In The Morning Listening To Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska” in his own backyard. Last fall, he invited his audience deep into the late-night woods for his horror-drama “Lýkos Ánthrōpos.”
His latest play, “Love and Vinyl” is set in a record store and can only be seen in—you guessed it—a record store. KA-CHUNK Records, located in the heart of downtown Annapolis’ historic shopping district, plays host to this charming and sophisticated romcom. Like most site-specific theatre, the setting takes the place of a stage and provides an intimate sense-of-place that draws the audience into the story.
…charming and sophisticated romcom…a must-see.
It’s at the local record store we meet life-long pals Bogie (Andy Brownstein) and Zane (Carlos Saldaña) as they shop for vintage vinyl. Best friends since the 9th grade, the two men share a passion of music, but they are at different places in their search for love. Social studies teacher Zane is broken-hearted following an unexpected break-up with his long-time girlfriend. Accountant Bogie tries to give advice and console his lovelorn buddy, but admits he has very little experience with romance. Enter Sage (Rachel Manteuffel), the brassy, but empathetic, new-in-town record store owner. What follows is a quirky, funny, sometimes sad, but always real conversation about love, life, and loneliness.
All three actors are outstanding in their roles. Brownstein plays Bogie with an unabashed vulnerability. Saldaña, who also directs the play, gives us a genuine, relatable Zane. Manteuffel shines as the wise, relationship-weary Sage. The dialog is fast-paced and witty. The costumes, the music, the lighting, and the set are all authentic and exactly what one would want and expect from a reality-based, slice-of-life production.
If you are a fan of site-specific theater and love a good romcom, “Love and Vinyl” is a must-see. If you are unfamiliar with the genre, give it a try. You may just fall in love with this intimate form of performance art.
Running time: Approximately 85 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Adult themes and language.
“Love and Vinyl” runs Thursdays-Sundays through August 6, 2023 at KA-CHUNK Records, 78 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21401. All performances start at 8 pm with doors opening at 7:30 pm. Advanced tickets sales only. Purchase tickets online. Seating is limited and masks are not required.