Last time round, playwright Mike Bartlett skewered the Royal Family in King Charles III and now has tackled a royal-pain-in-the-ass-family in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE off-Broadway at the Laura Pels – a Roundabout Theatre presentation.
In three relatively short tongue-in-satirical-cheek “all you need is love” themed vignettes separated by two rather long scene changes (sets by Derek McLane) five excellent actors portraying one sympathetic/four loathsome characters spanning the years 1967 – 2010 challenge us to put up with some “me-first mentality.”
Vignette 1 – 1967 London. A depressing apartment shared by two brothers – a brutish Henry (Alex Hurt in Dustin Hoffman mode) a serious minded bloke who has taken in his carefree, charming brother Kenneth (a rakish Richard Armitage) who cavorts around barefoot and bare-chested drinking and smoking and watching the telly. Verbal ping pong ensues. Dialogue is fast and sometimes furious. And funny.
Both await the arrival of Sandra (Amy Ryan) a pitch perfect sexy free spirit. Henry has invited her. She is bringing dinner. Kenneth has been ordered to stay in his room. She arrives. Dressed in a mod mini. Costumes throughout by Susan Hilferty are spot on. Kenneth lingers. Sandra has forgotten the food is very thirsty and very stoned and immediately zeroes in on Kenneth relegating Henry to go fetch some fish and chips. Poor Henry.
Next we are in an art filled lavish apartment of the 90’s somewhere in London. A barefoot carefree spirit romps around lip syncing to a tape with a candlestick for a mic – the son of Kenneth and Sandra, Jamie (Ben Rosenfeld) looking and acting very much like his adorable dad. They are to celebrate his sister Rose’s birthday – as a family. Close knit? Not exactly. It’s a party you won’t soon forget.
Rose, a violin toting, distressed and whiny Zoe Kazan has obvious problems. Her parents. They still smoke and drink – a lot. Well they all have problems. No last name for this family appears I suppose to protect the guilty. The parents discuss their affairs openly with the kids and the distinct scent of divorce is in the air. Happy Birthday!
The final instalment of “movin’ on up” – is in a summer home where obviously a funeral has been attended as Kenneth holds an urn of ashes – lucky Henry. Rose now 37 finally has it out with her parents. A bare-chested and seemingly lost Jamie sunbathes outside. Sandra, now on Facebook and loving it – drinks and smokes to excess. As usual.
What happened to this family? Was it genetic? Was it the drugs? Was it the booze? Was it rebellion? Was it love? Or was it all a monumental mistake? Selfishness. Ego. Not caring for anyone but themselves. Perhaps, some folks should never have children if they are going to treat them in this manner. The kids blame the parents. The parents blame the kids. Whose life is it anyway?
The Baby Boomer generation is laid bare in satirical splendor by Mr. Bartlett with laser like direction by Michael Myers. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is both entertaining and depressing. The acting exceptional. Proceed with caution.
Through Dec 18th. 2 hours 5 minutes with 2 ten minute intermissions.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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