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Album at Duquesne Red Masquers

Young performers salvage a nostalgic play

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The best point about having the Duquesne University Red Masquers tackling David Rimmer's Album is that the undergraduate actors are wholly credible as high school kids. The down side is the 1981 comedy itself, a timeless story of privileged white kids "coming of age" — but supposedly set in the 1960s.

No. Sorry: Been there, done that, suffered the flashbacks. Twanging the strings of nostalgia are mid-'60s rock tunes that are frequently (often awkwardly, even incorrectly) referenced. Yes, baby boomers at the time related very strongly to "their music." Insufferably so at times. Yes, "insufferable" describes a lot of boomers themselves. But Album hits more than a few false notes with a 1960s free of racial tensions. (You think white people didn't take notice of Watts, Detroit, Newark, etc.? For persons of a certain age, "long hot summer" is not a weather report.) Barely mentioned are the Vietnam War and the future-choking threat of The Draft — most boomers then were from blue-collar families, not candidates for a college deferment.

Enough with the soapbox. What we have are two pairs of friends, male and female, exploring old relationships from childhood and newer hook-ups with attainable members of the opposite gender. Peggy (strongly played by Abby Blackmon) is the aggressive, sometime bullying buddy of Trish (a sweet Erin Womer), who projects her adolescent passions onto famous rock stars.

While they continue in their (probably upscale suburban) public high school, the guys are off to boarding school to become bad-boy preppies. Nathaniel Yost lives up to his character's (Billy) senses of conceit and entitlement. Trevor Root lays it on thick as the dork nicknamed "Boo," just like real music nerds at the time also took themselves way too seriously.

Duquesne's director of theater arts, John E. Lane Jr., designed the set and directed the ensemble and enthusiastic production staff.

The title most readily refers to the LPs of the young music-lovers, but is more delicately interpreted as the family album that Trish trivializes, vandalizes and finally comes to cherish. Don't take it as a period piece: For all the flaws of the play itself, this production makes the most of the power of raw youth.

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