Sluggish ‘Arms on Fire’ fails to light a spark

From left: Guiesseppe Jones, Natalie Mendoza, and James Barry star in the Chester Theatre Company production of Steven Sater’s “Arms on Fire.”
From left: Guiesseppe Jones, Natalie Mendoza, and James Barry star in the Chester Theatre Company production of Steven Sater’s “Arms on Fire.”Credit: RICK TELLER

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At bottom, “Arms on Fire’’ is about saving and being saved. But Steven Sater’s sluggish and underdeveloped drama stands in need of salvation itself, from the playwright’s self-indulgence.

Time and again, Sater allows his slender story of the friendship between a floundering rock singer and a big-hearted factory worker — plus the nightclub performer who haunts the worker’s memory — to drift into pseudo-poetic metaphysical maundering. From there, it’s a short trip to tedium.

Now receiving its world premiere at the Chester Theatre Company under the direction of Byam Stevens, “Arms on Fire’’ features music by Duncan Sheik, Sater’s collaborator on the Tony-winning “Spring Awakening.’’ What they’ve come up with this time is a two-act porridge of half-realized moments, in which attitudes and poses too often take the place of genuine ideas and feelings.

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ARMS ON FIRE

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