Written by DUNCAN PFLASTER
When two members of a rock band break up, it takes real dedication to keep the band from falling apart. In Grant James Varjas' stunning play-with-music 33 to Nothing, the two ex-lovers are Bri (Preston Clarke) and Gray (playwright/composer Varjas), who are trying to keep it cool during a rehearsal as their other band members (John Good, Amanda Gruss and Ken Forman) work through their own issues. Gray is a stunted child-man who can't express himself except through song, drinks to excess, and throws out searingly funny one-liners to mask his obvious suffering, and Bri is feeling uncomfortable when Gray's lyrics are suddenly all about him. Gruss and Goode have some fine moments as the married couple in the band and Forman is hilarious as Barry, the enthusiastic drummer. Clarke is so good and affecting as Bri, I forgave him for ostentatiously mentioning his wife in his program bio. All the actors play their own instruments to perfection. The show abounds with rock in-jokes and is wonderfully observed, with a real love for the flawed characters. Varjas' writing is deft and impressive, but it's his raw and fearless performance that pulls the show into sharp focus. Gray's 90-minute breakdown is an emotional bikini wax: painful, but afterward we feel cleaner for it. For fans of Velvet Goldmine, this may be just your cup of rock 'n' roll.