“Single Room Occupancy” at FringeNYC 2015 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater (Closed Thursday August 27, 2015)

Book and Music by Ben Rauch
Lyrics by Gaby Gold, Ben Rauch, and Rory Scholl
Directed by Joey Murray
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Matthew is stuck. Stuck in his musical career. Stuck in his search for true love. Stuck in his miniscule apartment in New Jersey. Stuck with his group of friends stuck in their own millennial generation angst-ridden matrix of unrealized dreams. Additionally, Matthew would prefer not to perform his music anywhere but in his claustrophobic apartment just west of the Eden that is every musician’s paradise. Ben Rauch’s new pop/rock musical “Single Room Occupancy” purports to address the dilemma of being one’s own worst obstacle – not the distracting obstacles of social media, nor the quest for romance. Mr. Rauch’s musical seems not to provide answers to overcoming the obstacle of self. Indeed, it provides no clear answers to anything.

Perhaps the best thing about “Single Room Occupancy” is the music by Ben Rauch who also plays the protagonist Matthew. The book is lackluster and often inappropriate as are many of the lyrics (the reader is welcome to go and judge for himself/herself). The balance between band and cast is off and it is often difficult to hear the lyrics. The device of having Matthew and the cast be part of an improv group does not work and adds nothing to the thin story line.

Add to this the lack of air conditioning in the Lynn Redgrave Theatre and the result is less than favorable. It is difficult to understand how a cast and audience can be subjected to intolerable conditions that jeopardize the health and well-being of patrons who pay to see a performance.