Nocturne -- At first, blending theater with jazz seems a fascinating idea. In this world premiere mounted by Ensemble Theatre, however, the saxophone jazz is lush, but the script has all the resonance of a tin kazoo. Playwright Saul Zachary has imagined a middle-aged couple with problems: Eldon's a jealous ex-sax player turned wealthy salesman, and Vera is "enigmatic" -- which we know because Zachary tells us, in so many words. This atonal script combines really bad soft porn ("I was so hot, I asked him to open the window") with unbelievable plot devices: Vera somehow winds up cooking meals for a famous black sax player (Robert Williams), who's blind and playing for quarters on the street. As if that weren't enough, Nocturne is also hugely melodramatic and depressingly humorless. Jeff Grover does what he can as Eldon, but Valerie Young is ill equipped to handle the script challenges as Vera; her second-act monologue, supposedly a soul-baring rant, is larded with laughable clichés. On the plus side, Rob Williams (not to be confused with actor Robert) plays sax very nicely in the shadows. Presented by Ensemble Theatre through June 18 at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Ave., 216-321-2930 -- Howey
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