'Dreams Die Hard' Faces Gremlins

John Binder based his new play "Dreams Die Hard" upon David Harris' nonfiction book by the same name.

Although perhaps best known as the former husband of Joan Baez, Harris (Matt Salinger) was a student radical during the turbulent Vietnam years. Allard Lowenstein (Gerrit Graham), an early organizer in the freedom marches and later in the anti-war movement, functioned as a sort of mentor to Harris and his fellow activist Dennis Sweeney (Darrell Larson). The play examines the relationship between these three men, whose ideologies diverged sharply as the era grew increasingly violent and radical, culminating in murder.

Technical gremlins bedeviled the opening night, with a lighting board computer malfunctioning and a prop gun misfiring during a crucial scene. All technical problems aside, however, the play itself misfires. Bogged down in historical incident, bristling with tangled personal subplots, "Dreams Die Hard" is history as presented by the denizens of "Melrose Place."

Co-directed by Binder and Larson, the play shifts wildly from melodrama to farce to rhetorical exposition, overstaying its welcome by a good hour--or a good couple of decades.

* "Dreams Die Hard," Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave . , Los Angeles. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends April 2. $15. (213) 957-1152. Running time: 3 hours.

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