By Stephan Lee
Updated November 10, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Ari Mintz

The score of The Blue Flower, now playing at Off Broadway’s 2econd Stage Theatre, dares to combine the brassy honks of Weimar-era cabaret with the whiny guitar of country & western. If those sonic motifs seem to clash, so do the many competing thematic and visual threads of this exhaustingly antic musical play.

The plot centers on a group of (heavily) fictionalized famous figures, based on artists Max Beckmann (Marc Kudisch) and Franz Marc (Sebastian Arcelus), scientist Marie Curie (Teal Wicks), and Dada artist Hannah Höch (Meghan McGeary) in war-torn Germany in the early 20th century. Although the premise is ripe with potential for romance and sweeping epic, the story gets diluted across too many media. Jim and Ruth Bauer, the creative duo behind this musical, rely so much on flashy video narration as a storytelling device that the onstage performers are almost relegated to the background. In an effort to be aggressively unconventional, the production loses the humanity that its core cast of dreamers and artists are desperately trying to hold on to. C+

(Tickets: or 212-246-4422)