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“Stereophonic” reviewed

Perhaps what’s most amazing about Stereophonic is what David Adjmi never tells us. His epic new studio session of a play, with songs by the former Arcade Fire member Will Butler, delivers far more than a dishy glimpse inside the recording studio during rock’s golden age.

It’s 1976 in Sausalito, Calif., and a not-named band — at least not solely inspired by Fleetwood Mac — is laying down the (unnamed) album that will propel it to stardom and unravel the personal lives of its members (in much the same way that making “Rumours” did for Fleetwood Mac). The setting (a marvel by scenic designer David Zinn) is a pressure-cooker: The coffee machine is broken but there’s a gallon bag of cocaine, and tensions and affections — both creative and personal — are running hot.

When the poetic and insecure Diana (Sarah Pidgeon), sits down at the piano some 45 minutes into the three-hour show, the actor’s radiant voice delivers the first significant composition the audience hears: “Bright,” a folk-tinged rock ballad with sterling, ethereal vocals. Until then, notes trickle out in brief bursts. Often interrupted or doled out in riffs, the expressions of character and discord generated by Butler’s music are abstract — their fragmentation designed to make you want more. (Savor the early sessions when everyone can stand to be in the same room.)

Diana’s toxic romance with Peter (an outstanding Tom Pecinka) — guitarist, producer, unrelenting narcissist — is a searing and consistent source of emotional combustion. Peter’s willingness to shiv Diana’s soft spots makes the other feuding couple look downright sweet: Reg, the boozing, philosophical bassist (played by Will Brill) and the peace-seeking Holly (Juliana Canfield). The level head in the room usually belongs to Simon (a charming Chris Stack), except when an out-of-whack drum kit sends him into a fit.

When the bandmates are in formation behind the recording-booth glass — elevated on a higher plane, their faces enshrined by warm halos (the exquisite lighting is by Jiyoun Chang) — they’re like gods on Mount Olympus glowering down at the tech table. The upstairs-downstairs dynamic between the musicians and their sound engineers, the low-key ambitious Grover (Eli Gelb) and non sequitur-spouting Charlie (Andrew R. Butler), is a font of frequent comedy, including Grover’s crazed, sleep-deprived impression of Peter and Simon, who run him ragged with all-nighters.

This ensemble is excellent and the music rivals many a recent Grammy winner. While I wish it maybe lifted a bit less from the real Fleetwood Mac (Diana comes from Arizona — so does Stevie Nicks; three members of this band are British — so were three members of Fleetwood Mac; Peter’s brother was an Olympic swimmer — you guessed it, so was Lindsey Buckingham’s), Adjmi creates a vastly entertaining and fully realized world in Stereophonic — even if we never learn the band’s name.