By Sandi Durell
All you need is the Beatles’ Love, Love, Love . . . and this humor-filled play by Mike Bartlett (of recent Broadway success’ King Charles III) to set the record straight about the 1960s flower child era, a time of exploration, freedom and. . . narcissism. Currently part of Roundabout Theatre Company’s new season at the Laura Pels Theatre, Love looks to be one of the comedy highlights of this season.
Beginning in 1967, in a somewhat shabby London apartment, we find Henry (Alex Hurt), a straight laced working guy, who’s invited 19 year old free spirited Sandra (Amy Ryan) for a visit with the hopes of bedding her, but he must first rid himself of his drop out of Oxford free-thinking younger brother Kenneth (Richard Armitage), his new roomy. It isn’t more than a few minutes that pass after she arrives that it’s obvious the already stoned Sandra would rather bed Kenneth.
Act I (after a short intermission) quickly transforms into Act II where the time has flown and it’s 1990. Ken and Sandra have amazingly physically morphed into adults, now an upwardly mobile married couple in a nice apartment living with their two teenage kids, 16-year-old Jamie (Ben Rosenfield and Rose (Zoe Kazan), his 14-year-old sister. There’s lots of teenage angst, whining and crying from Rose whose boyfriend has left her, and the unrelenting “all about me” chatter from the now grown up (but not really) selfish Mum, Sandra, who has obviously made a mess of her kids’ lives. As the couple admits their infidelities in front of their children, offering up wine and cigarettes to them, Sandra announces they’re getting a divorce. Serious though the topic may be, the laughs keep coming.
By the time we get to Act III (after another short intermission) it’s 2010, at Kenneth’s luxurious country home where he lives with his problematic son who has shut down emotionally, while an older, calmer Rose arrives followed by the same old Mum who runs roughshod over everyone in her path still believing the world revolves around her.
People don’t change, just situations, as the free wheeling 60s generation leaves its mark of dysfunction.
The comedy is superbly portrayed by this well-chosen cast—Armitage and Ryan the perfect yin and yang, ever so delicately brought to life by Michael Mayer’s fine directorial hand. Derek McLane’s three well-designed sets are right on the money as are Susan Hilferty’s costumes.
Love, Love, Love – Laura Pels Theatre (Roundabout Theatre Company), 111 West 46 St. 212 719-1300 – 2 hours, 5 minutes (2 intermissions)