LUV

  • By Murray Schisgal
  • Director: Gary Condes
  • Cast: Elsie Bennett, Charles Dorfman, Nick Barber
  • Park Theatre, London
  • Until 7 January 2017
  • Review by Nicholas Potter
  • 15 December 2016
LUV
3.0Reviewer's Rating

You can probably garner from the title what Luv is about. The play follows the ups and downs of three completely different middle-aged people who come together in a cartoonish ménage à trois. The characters draw heavily from cliché: Harry is a pessimistic philosopher, Milt is a greasy salesman, and Ellen is a disillusioned suburban housewife. Luv is a fun romp of clowning and wacky comedy.

1960s America has chewed up and spat out Harry (Charles Dorfman), who sits alone on a bench, dishevelled and gormless, preparing to commit suicide by jumping into water. However, Fate smiles on him, since he is fortunate enough to be coaxed down by an old schoolmate, Milt (Nick Barber), who just so happens to be in the area. The premise sounds grave, but it’s clear from early on that Luv is not a serious affair. The pair reminisce, clash in their ideologies, and make brazen jousts about who has had a worse childhood.

Enter Ellen (Elsie Bennett), wife of Milt, who is the very picture of a tidy ‘60s housewife with her immaculate beehive hairdo. In the oscillations of mood that plague all three, from happy to sad, Ellen has much to say about women’s education and disappointing men. In the second part of the play she is seen reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, but she curses her intelligence, since it has closed off a coveted avenue of existence: the brainless serenity of a docile wife. In the end she is caught between the affections of Harry and Milt, but it seems like she will never be truly content.

Luv seems to be more cartoon sketch than play. The physical gags elicit uproarious laughter from the audience: Harry bounces around the stage like a pinball on account of his various fits and ticks, and Milt takes care of Ellen’s make-up routine as she stands stony-faced. The exaggerated postures and bizarre choreography all lends itself to the cartoony feel of Luv.

The problem of the style is that there is no gripping narrative. But then again, that seems to be rather the point. Just when you think Harry is going to recount some horrible episode from the past, the one which caused him to be so dejected, he offers up a memory of a small dog weeing on his trouser, which is supposedly the root of all his anguish. Luv is an exciting display of see-sawing emotions, from snarling to mewing, laughing to crying, which is done with a great dollop of zest and crazy energy. If you’re looking for something light-hearted and comical then Luv is for you.

Comment

Your email address will not be published.