How to Listen to Rock ’n’ Roll in a Theater

Mr. Jensen’s Bangs is a shaggy, complicated, likable man who tries to confront the dark side of the music he loves. The show suggests that Bangs’s approach — his immersive writing style anticipated the current passion for the all-sharing I — was fueled by his desire to make music, not just chronicle it. But over all the portrait does not coalesce into much of a point.

More energetic staging might have helped pull us into Bangs’s world. After he praises a Troggs song for “blasting you through the wall, out across the rooftops, straight outta your box into perfect release in a troposphering limbo of blizzardnoise at last,” he plays the track, but at a meek 3 instead of the necessary “Spinal Tap” 11. That scratch that does not soothe the rock ’n’ roll itch.

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Cast members appear on a set depicting the mezzanine at a famed rock concert in “The Hendrix Project.”

Credit
Nicolas Savignano

At least the BRIC House theater’s sound system delivers the necessary volume at “The Hendrix Project.” But then unlike the wordy “Rock Critic,” this show tackles the transformative power of music without a single line of dialogue.

Roger Guenveur Smith follows up plays like “A Huey P. Newton Story” and “Rodney King” with another look at an epoch-making African-American man — but this time his subject is offstage, glimpsed only through grainy videos. What we watch is a dozen 20-somethings who, in turn, are watching Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore East on New Year’s Eve 1969. The cast members look down at the audience in a scenic device not unlike the one in Annie Baker’s play “The Flick.”

Perched on the set designer Levi Lack’s rendering of the Fillmore’s mezzanine, the actors are motionless, unsmiling as the music booms around them. This goes on for quite a while. Gradually, they begin to shake off the stillness in Robert…

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