The Tony Award-nominated musical “[title of show]” centers around two struggling young artists writing a musical about two struggling young artists writing a musical.

Add “[title of show],” playing at the SpeakEasy stage, to the list of musicals by theater folks singing about theater folks.


This show is a small, often banal endeavor delivered with chutzpah and dripping with self-congratulatory statements about originality but without a plot, characters, costumes, sets or an orchestra. If that is supposed to be its charm, then I missed the point.


The Tony Award-nominated musical centers around two struggling young artists writing a musical about two struggling young artists writing a musical. Written and originally performed by collaborators Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, the show and score are based on their path to the footlights, from the New York Musical Theater Festival to off-Broadway to Broadway, fueled by a successful word-of-mouth campaign.


Director Paul Daigneault has kept the spirit of the piece by casting four unknown actors with warm but unassuming stage personas, thankfully punched up by Will McGarrahan as accompanist and resident cynic. Jordan Ahnquist is the wide-eyed Jeff, the composer, obsessed by every obscure show that failed on Broadway; Joe Lanza, the more practical Hunter.


The guys have three weeks to pen their entry for the theater festival and neither has a clue for a story line. There’s not even a film left to be adapted like “Legally Blonde.” They hit on the idea of setting the process to music: their everyday chit-chat, the angst over writer’s block, or, heaven help us, their dreams. It’s a bit like a more genial version of “Rent” but less pointed.


Two women friends are enlisted to help, and they, too, join the cast. Val Sullivan plays Susan, who lives to perform but keeps her day job; Amy Barker is Heidi, forever auditioning for second-banana roles.


The plot is punctuated by songs such as “Die, Vampire, Die,” which lists the self-doubts that plague the creative mind, with the naysayers on the sidelines as various types of bloodsuckers. Another song recalls memories of an 8-year-old putting on a show in the living room, the genesis of a lifelong ambition.


The best number in the mostly forgettable score recounts the dilemma of selling out (on the road of revisions to the Broadway run), letting the quartet warble on about wanting to be “Nine People’s Favorite Thing,” rather than “One Hundred People’s Ninth ...”


You get the idea.


The appeal of a four-actor, one-musician production with no sets or costumes is a gift to a small theater’s budget, and it’s not hard to fathom why Speakeasy selected this for its mid-winter offering. It’s easy to want to love a show about two young, gay men enthralled by life on the wicked stage, but “[title of show]” requires a suspension of belief in the power – and wonder – of theater to create illusion. Who needs to pay for a ticket to watch four people in everyday clothes sing about ordering a turkey burger to be delivered?


The Patriot Ledger


[title of show] Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co. at Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, through Feb. 13. $30-$54. 617-933-8600, www.Speakeasystage.com