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"Flailing Through Life With Songs, Love and Breakups"

Flailing Through Life With Songs, Love and Breakups

Published: March 14, 2006

"33 to Nothing" has a good beat. You can dance to it. Or, at least, nod your head to its downtown Bowie-cum-Coldplay groove. Labeled a "play with music," this latest production from the Argo Theater Company about a band's breakup is a cross between a play and a house concert. Although some of the best musicians don't act very well, and some of the best actors have more attitude than musical chops, it's a lively experiment that combines heartache, humor and powerful songs.

Playing in a dilapidated rehearsal room, the band is led by Gray (Grant James Varjas). (Mr. Varjas also wrote the play and the songs, except for "Lost to Me," which includes music by John Good, who directed the play and has the role of Tyler.) Gray is 36, balding, still in love with his bandmate Bri (Preston Clarke) and flailing through life. All his songs are about his breakup with Bri. This makes it hard for Bri, but also adds comic punch to the rehearsal. Rounding out the band are the drummer, Barry (Ken Forman), who is as enthusiastic as a puppy, and the sarcastic, straight-talking bass player, Alex (Amanda Gruss), who is married to Beach Boys-handsome Tyler.

The banter is sharp, particularly the snarky comments about other bands. Bowie is an "ex-gay" who "reneged on us." Gray tells Alex, about her relationship with Tyler, "I should've known you would go all Yoko on us."

Audience members might recognize elements of the Beatles' film "Let It Be," the rock-musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and scenes from Cameron Crowe's fictionalized autobiographical film, "Almost Famous." Structurally, though, the play is lacking; when Bri protests to Gray that the band is "too much you," he could be speaking about the play itself. Although Mr. Varjas is twitchily expressive, Gray has the only fully realized character. Exposition is occasionally clumsy, and the end falls flat. Still, "33 to Nothing" is dynamic and alive. With some more studio time, it has the makings of a hit. - NY Times

"33 to Nothing"

33 to Nothing
March 08, 2006
By Andy Propst

While I am not sure the world needs another play with a gay central character who is a sexually ravenous alcoholic and fears commitment, Grant James Varjas' 33 to Nothing does present this stereotype in a somewhat fresh light.

The character in question is Gray, the guiding force behind a rock band that has yet to make it. Gray is the group's lead singer and also the man who composes its maudlin, largely autobiographical songs, which center on his dissatisfaction with Bri, the lead guitarist and Gray's ex-boyfriend.

Alongside these two are the other members of the band: tenuously happy straight couple Alex and Tyler (played with casual ease by Amanda Gruss and director John Good), and Barry (played as too much of a caricature by Ken Forman), who's partnered with and kowtows to a selfishly demanding offstage woman.

The quintet rehearses and recriminations fly, not only about Gray and Bri's relationship and their behavior during the time they were together, but also about Gray's drinking and self-obsession, which might be reasons why the band has not progressed further.

In addition to scripting the play, Varjas has written the songs heard in the show, and he plays Gray with such nuance that the man invites both sympathy and disdain. Gray's level of maturity clearly does not match his age, yet there's a wounded quality that compels. Varjas' performance is matched by Preston Clarke's equally conflicted Bri, and it's fascinating to watch how the two men simultaneously attract and repel one another.

Had Varjas placed this relationship alongside two perfect straight ones, 33 to Nothing would simply be an exercise in perpetuating gay stereotypes. As it stands, though, this is a sensitive and intimate look at the different ways in which these five 30-somethings have matured.
- Backstage.com


The first single off of the new album is "Low To The Ground"
The new album is called "33 To Nothing"
Our debut album, "Kevlar" featured the single "Half Empty". Both are sadly out of print.



33 To Nothing carry on the tradition of bands like Fleetwood Mac by featuring two couples in the band: songwriter/lead singer/pianist Gray and lead guitarist Bri have been on again/off again as a couple ever since the band began. The band's songs serve as as an intimate look inside the couple's bond and their more than occasional lack of one.
Married couple Tyler (guitar) and Alex (bassist and female) met during the early days of the band, and their (mostly) happy relationship provides a much needed yin to Gray and Brian's yang. Filling out the band is drummer Barry, who says he has a longtime girlfriend, but whom the band has met only once.