I Love You, Petty, and Favre
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
August 8, 2008
I could never figure out who the "I" of this play's title is: I Love You, Petty, and Favre is about Brian—who is a great fan of Brett Favre and his hometown football team the Green Bay Packers—and Brett—who is similarly worshipful of rocker Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The conceit suggested by the publicity materials is that somehow this coupling is against-the-odds, but playwright/producer David Scott pretty much makes us take it on faith that Brian and Brett are soulmates, thus draining whatever conflict that this clash of idols is supposed to precipitate. And we never really see evidence that new music and sports obsessions blossom between Brian and Brett, which leaves me with my question about the title.
The gimmick of Scott's script is that he starts his story in the middle, at Brian and Brett's wedding, and then in alternating scenes takes us backward and forward in time, showing us what happens to this couple and also their history, culminating with their first (bizarrely anti-climactic) meeting as children. The relationship is played out in many, many very short scenes, most of which have neither the length nor the dramatic weight to feel like much more than a blackout sketch or vignette. Eventually Scott gets to the heart of his story (the substance of which I will not reveal here), and we begin to understand that the play is intended to remind audiences that the small things in life are what are to be savored; that making every moment count is finally what's important. It's a worthy theme, but most of I Love You, Petty, and Favre is so mired in inconsequential details that the ending finally doesn't feel earned.
One of the main problems I had with the play is that while Brian and Brett are apparently very deeply in love and in a rich and rewarding marriage, we seldom see real evidence of that. A flashback scene about Brett's decision to have an abortion is particularly troubling: Brian says that he has strong beliefs against abortion, but nevertheless caves into Brett within seconds. Later, there's a scene where Brian and his father give Brett a restaurant (!) for their wedding anniversary. In a great marriage, would a husband just buy his wife a business without discussing it with her first? And has there ever been a couple in history that hasn't ever discussed what their child's name will be until after the child is born?
Scott's script has lots of these credibility gaps, and the uneven direction (by John J. Budion, characterized by very long transitions between the numerous scenes) and performances only amplify the play's trouble spots.
That said, there is a terrific performance at the center of I Love You, Petty, and Favre: Jason Denuszek gives a warm, polished, and completely winning portrayal of the grown-up Brian. I will certainly look out for more of his work in the future.